New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 10: Jerod Mayo of the New England Patriots defends against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 10: Jerod Mayo of the New England Patriots defends against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Jerod Mayo is returning to the Patriots – as an assistant to Bill Belichick. The former Pats linebacker is joining Bill Belichick’s staff to become the new linebackers coach, as reported by NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran.

He joins defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as new additions to the Patriots’ defensive staff amid significant turnover on that side of the ball. Mayo replaces former linebackers coach/defensive play-caller Brian Flores, who left the Pats to become the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Mayo himself confirmed that he’s joining the Patriots coaching staff via Instagram:

The Patriots still have openings at defensive line coach after Brendan Daly departed to join the Kansas City Chiefs as their run game coordinator/defensive line coach. They also need a new defensive backs coach after Josh Boyer went with Flores to the Dolphins to become their defensive passing game coordinator. According to Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald, the Pats also recently hired longtime Schiano assistant Bob Fraser in an undisclosed role.

Mayo, 33, played his entire eight-year NFL career with the Patriots. He was a force against the run and a tackling machine on the defensive interior, leading the league with 175 combined tackles in 2010. He earned First Team All-Pro honors that season.

As an anchor of the Patriots defense for several years, Mayo was like a coach on the field. He often wore the green dot on his helmet that signified his communication with the sidelines. He passed that role on to former teammate Dont’a Hightower and others after he retired.

Now, Mayo will coach Hightower along with a depth chart that includes Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, Ja’Whaun Bentley, and Christian Sam. Between retirement and now, Mayo showed off his deep football knowledge and engaging personality as a co-host of NBC Sports Boston’s “Quick Slants” with Curran.

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: Jerod Mayo #51 of the New England Patriots looks on against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 14: Jerod Mayo #51 of the New England Patriots looks on against the Denver Broncos during their AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Other former teammates who can now call Mayo “Coach” are Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner, Brandon Bolden, Brandon King, Stephen Gostkowski, and Ryan Allen. On offense, there’s Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, James White, Marcus Cannon, David Andrews, and Shaq Mason.

Mayo’s title, if official, could carry added significance. Linebackers coach has recently been a stepping stone for future Patriots defensive coordinators. Matt Patricia and Flores both held that role before eventually calling the plays for the whole unit.

Perhaps this means that Schiano is simply a placeholder for Mayo to eventually take over as DC. Though he returns to the Patriots with no NFL coaching experience to assume a major role, Mayo has always impressed with his football smarts and work ethic. He should at least set a fine example for the linebackers in the meeting rooms and have them well-prepared on Sundays.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.