Patriots Must Follow These Rules When Hiring Offensive Coordinator

The Patriots need to go through the process before bringing in a new OC


January 13

The Patriots on Thursday announced they’ll have a new voice leading their offense in 2023. And not another nebulous, untitled, de facto setup like they had this season with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

New England’s unprecedentedly transparent press release indicated they’re hiring an official offensive coordinator this offseason, with interviews set to commence next week.

That revelation surely came as a relief to Patriots fans who were fed up with the product Patricia and Judge put out this season, with New England’s offense nosediving despite returning nearly all of its 2021 contributors. But it’ll also require the Patriots to adhere to a few NFL regulations.

The Rooney Rule mandates that teams interview at least one external minority candidate before hiring a new coordinator. The same also now applies to quarterbacks coaches, with the league adding that requirement months after the Patriots rehired Judge last offseason.

So, that means New England can’t just go out and immediately hire, say, Bill O’Brien. The league requires them to also interview at least one minority candidate who is not currently on their staff.

There are restrictions on when these interviews can take place, too, if the candidates are employed by teams participating in the playoffs. NFL PR head Brian McCarthy outlined that timeline earlier this week:

Coaches who are currently unemployed or working for non-playoff teams are free to interview whenever they wish.

As for who the Patriots can target for this job, teams are allowed to block coaches from interviewing for lateral moves. So, if New England wanted to meet with a coach who currently is an offensive coordinator for another NFL club, his team can prevent him from doing so. The Patriots have done this in the past with their own assistants and personnel staff.

Teams cannot block coaches from interviewing for promotions elsewhere, so anyone below OC level is fair game. That means the Patriots wouldn’t need permission to interview someone like Chad O’Shea, the former longtime New England wide receivers coach who currently is the pass game coordinator/receivers coach in Cleveland.

It’s unclear which coaches are on Bill Belichick’s OC wish list, but potential options include O’Brien, O’Shea, former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Los Angeles Rams QBs coach/pass game coordinator Zac Robinson. Tight ends coach Nick Caley also could be in the mix if Belichick chooses to promote from within.

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