The New England Patriots drafted Jerod Mayo in 2008. A year later, he was a team captain.
The Patriots added Mayo to their coaching staff in 2019. Two years later, he’s already a head-coaching candidate.
The Philadelphia Eagles intend to interview Mayo for their vacant head-coaching position, according to a report Wednesday from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. It’s a rapid ascent for the former All-Pro linebacker, who just completed his second season as a coach at any level.
But it’s not overly surprising.
A captain for seven of his eight seasons as a Patriots player, Mayo is widely regarded as one of the best locker-room leaders of the Bill Belichick era. Safety Devin McCourty once called him “the heart and soul” of the team and “one of the best leaders that I have ever got a chance to play with.” Other prominent Patriots have shared similar sentiments.
Mayo also served as an unofficial extension of Belichick’s coaching staff, especially late in his career as he battled injuries that ultimately led to his early retirement at age 29.
“I thought I was a smart football player,” linebacker Dont’a Hightower said during the 2015 playoffs. “But, I mean, that dude could be a defensive coordinator right now.”
Midway through his first season as New England’s inside linebackers coach — the role he’s held for the last two years — Mayo appeared on a list of up-and-coming assistants who could be future head coaches.
“I would be lying if I said I never wanted to be a head coach,” Mayo, who worked in the business world for three years after retiring, said in October 2019. “I know it’s a long way away. Just trying to learn as much as I can from Coach (Bill) Belichick and the rest of the staff.”
In a way, Mayo’s current situation is similar to the one Brian Flores faced in early 2018.
Flores, the Patriots’ linebackers coach at the time (he didn’t begin calling defensive plays until the following season), was invited to interview for the Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancy. He didn’t land the job but impressed in the interview. One year later, the Miami Dolphins hired Flores as their head coach.
Flores, though, had a decade of assistant coach experience by that point. The 34-year-old Mayo boasts an overflowing well of football knowledge and leadership qualities from his decorated playing career, but he likely needs more seasoning before he’ll be ready to make the leap to the head-coaching ranks.
That leap will come. But probably not this year.
Other coaches reportedly under consideration to replace the recently fired Doug Pederson in Philadelphia include San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, Tampa Bay Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles, Tennessee Titans OC Arthur Smith, Eagles running backs coach/assistant head coach Duce Staley and Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley.