New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 19: Head coach Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans looks on in the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium on November 19, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images)

The first big domino of the 2024 NFL head coaching cycle fell on Tuesday afternoon. A day after it was reported the two sides would meet to discuss their future, the Tennessee Titans fired head coach Mike Vrabel after six seasons of him being the head coach.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was one of the first to report the move, and said Vrabel “is expected to be one of the top candidates available.” He followed that with one more nugget, specifically mentioning the Patriots.


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“Fair to say: Keep an eye on New England and what’s next for Bill Belichick,” Rapoport tweeted independently of his initial report.

This isn’t the first time Vrabel has been linked as a potential Patriots successor. That’s been going on since speculation around Bill Belichick’s job status truly ramped up in October.

A lot of that was built around Vrabel’s return to New England for his induction into the Patriots’ team Hall of Fame. He spoke very highly of the organization both in his official induction ceremony on Saturday and when he was honored at halftime of the game on Sunday. That included a moment in which he referred to the Patriots in the first person, saying “we’ve got a game to win.”

The difference is that now Vrabel, 48, is a coaching free agent. Rapoport’s tweet follows a report from Monday saying that Vrabel  “is interested in the idea of returning to the Patriots, should New England part ways with Bill Belichick.”

  • New England Patriots on Twitter: "Pats Nation is happy to have ya back, @CoachVrabel50!@budlight | #EasyToCelebrate / Twitter"

    Pats Nation is happy to have ya back, @CoachVrabel50!@budlight | #EasyToCelebrate

    Now the question is, do the Patriots make the move to open up a spot for Vrabel to be head coach. Ownership reportedly met with Belichick on Monday to discuss the future, with another meeting reportedly planned soon. On Tuesday morning, ESPN’s Mike Reiss told Zolak & Bertrand it “feels like a Hail Mary” that Belichick returns for next season.

    If the Patriots do move on from Belichick, Vrabel will likely be one of the top candidates for the job. He began his coaching career at Ohio State before coming up through the Houston Texans’ system. The Titans hired him as head coach in 2018, and he had the team in the playoffs from 2019-2021 including a trip to the AFC Championship Game in 2019. Vrabel also won NFL Coach of the Year in 2021. Since then his Titans teams have gone 13-21, while missing the playoffs both years.

    Patriots ownership is certainly familiar with Vrabel. He played most of his NFL career in New England, winning three Super Bowls during his time with the Patriots from 2001-2008.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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