Patriots Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees Leaving New England

After the Patriots finished their disappointing 2009 campaign with a loss to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs, many began calling for a new defensive coordinator.

It seems those people will be getting their wish, as Dean Pees announced on Thursday that the 2009 season was his last with New England.

Pees has served as Bill Belichick's defensive coordinator since Dec. 17, 2006, and is a 37-year coaching veteran. He released the following statement:

“My contract with the New England Patriots will expire in a couple of weeks and I have informed [team owner Robert] Kraft and Coach Belichick that I will not seek to renew it. I enjoyed my time in New England, but feel this is the right time to pursue other opportunities. I had the privilege of working with some great coaches and great players over the past six seasons and leave the Patriots with some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to the players and coaching staff, I want to thank the Kraft family, the media and the fans for all of their support.”

According to the Boston Herald, Pees was not fired and chose to step down of his own volition.

"I chose to retire for personal reasons," Pees told the Herald's Ian Rapoport. "The Patriots treated me very well. I've enjoyed my time here. It's been six wonderful years. But my contract is up. I'm looking at future endeavors. I'm going into free agency."

Possible replacements for Pees, according to the Herald, could include Matt Patricia, currently serving as the Patriots' linebackers coach; Pepper Johnson, the defensive line coach; and Al Groh, former head coach at Virginia.

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