Could Patriots Lose Jerod Mayo To Broncos After Nathaniel Hackett Firing?

Mayo is viewed as a rising head-coaching candidate


Dec 26, 2022

Last January, before the Denver Broncos hired Nathaniel Hackett to be their next head coach, they interviewed New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo for that position.

With Hackett now out of a job before the end of his first season, could Denver turn to New England’s up-and-coming linebackers coach to fill its head-coaching void?

A 51-14 Christmas beatdown against the Los Angeles Rams was the final straw for Hackett, whom the 4-11 Broncos officially fired Monday. There have not been any reports directly linking Mayo to this new vacancy, but the impression he made during his 2021 interview makes him an obvious candidate.

“One hundred percent, he’ll be a head coach,” Broncos general manager George Paton, who was not let go along with Hackett, told the Boston Herald last offseason. “He has a dynamic personality, really bright, really smart, knows what he wants. I think he’s only coached three years, but he really had an interesting, unique perspective about how he’d do things. I really enjoyed the visit.”

Mayo, a former Patriots linebacker who began coaching in 2019, is New England’s de facto co-defensive coordinator, splitting that job with fellow linebackers coach Steve Belichick. Neither coach has an official coordinator title, however, and Belichick calls the Patriots’ defensive plays.

The 36-year-old Mayo reportedly is in the final year of his contract, and NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran recently reported he is “bursting at the seams to spread his wings.” Mayo already has interviewed for three head-coaching positions over the last two years (Philadelphia, Denver and Las Vegas) and has appeared on several head coach candidate watchlists.

Before his Broncos interview, Mayo said being an NFL head coach “always has been” a goal of his. It’s unclear, though, whether he would be interested in inheriting this Broncos team.

Denver has a solid roster and a good defense but is stuck with rapidly regressing quarterback Russell Wilson and his bloated contract. The Broncos signed Wilson to a five-year, $245 million contract extension after trading for him last offseason, and the former Seattle Seahawks star proceeded to deliver by far the worst season of his career. The Broncos, viewed as definite playoff contenders before the season, have averaged just 15.5 points per game, squandering a defense that ranks in the top 10 in points allowed.

Moving on from Wilson will be next to impossible, too. Cutting him at any point within the next three years would trigger enormous, record-setting dead money charges that would destroy the Broncos’ salary cap. NFL head-coaching opportunities are rare, though, so Mayo might be willing to take on this salvage job, assuming Denver doesn’t target an offensive-minded candidate to fix its issues on that side of the ball.

The Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts also are in the market for new head coaches after firing Matt Rhule and Frank Reich, respectively, earlier this season.

Though it’s faltered at times this season, the Patriots’ Mayo- and Belichick-led defense ranks fifth in the NFL in points allowed, third in sack rate, fifth in interception rate, third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and second in expected points added per play. It’s been far more consistent and productive than New England’s offense, which ranks near the bottom of the NFL in most categories under first-time play-caller Matt Patricia.

New England will host the Miami Dolphins this Sunday before visiting the Buffalo Bills in its regular-season finale.

Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN
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