New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 17: New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo looks on from the sideline next to head coach Bill Belichik during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on December 17, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

For the last year, Jerod Mayo has been tabbed as one of the favorites to replace Bill Belichick as the head coach of the New England Patriots. That speculation really began when the Patriots announced after the 2022 season that Mayo was being given a contract extension, and took himself out of the running for the head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers.

At the time, it was speculated that the Patriots either directly or indirectly set him up to be Belichick’s successor. Now that Belichick is gone that conversation is back in the spotlight, and it appears as though the Patriots did get the ball rolling a year ago.


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Initially, the roadblock to Mayo being hired outright was the NFL’s Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule is an NFL hiring rule that mandates team interview minority candidates for certain openings (including head coach). Not meeting those interview requirements violates the rule, therefore generally preventing a hire before a team can go through an interview process.

However, there is an exception to the Rooney Rule. If the new hire has a prior succession plan written into his current contract, the rule does not apply.

When it comes to Mayo, that is the case. On Thursday night, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted that ” Jerod Mayo is a strong candidate to replace Bill Belichick & if he is the choice, the Patriots could simply hire him. No need to go through the lengthy hiring process — they established a firm, contractual succession plan in a prior contract & communicated it to the NFL.”

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