Patriots Offensive Coordinator Rumors: Tracking All Candidates

The latest on the Patriots' OC search

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January 19

The New England Patriots plan to hire an official offensive coordinator this offseason. But who?

As their search for a new coordinator to replace this season’s much-maligned Matt Patricia/Joe Judge setup, here is a running list of the top candidates, based on various media reports:

Bill O’Brien
2022 role: Alabama offensive coordinator
Patriots connection: five seasons as an assistant (2007-11), including two as QBs coach/offensive play-caller and one as OC

No reports have yet surfaced about O’Brien interviewing for the job or receiving a request to do so, but multiple prominent insiders have him pegged as the frontrunner. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on Wednesday reported “most people believe (O’Brien) is the favorite” for the position he last held in 2011. Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston reported O’Brien is New England’s “primary target.” In addition to his prior Patriots experience, O’Brien also briefly overlapped with quarterback Mac Jones when the former arrived at Alabama in 2021. UPDATE: O’Brien interviewed with the Patriots on Thursday, per Rapoport.

Keenan McCardell
2022 role: Minnesota Vikings wide receivers coach
Patriots connection: played for Bill Belichick in Cleveland from 1992-95

The Patriots on Wednesday reportedly requested to interview McCardell, who got his start as an NFL receiver with Belichick’s early-’90s Browns. Belichick was a big fan of the 53-year-old back in his playing days. As a coach, McCardell has worked with wideouts in Washington, Jacksonville and Minnesota, most recently tutoring first-team All-Pro Justin Jefferson. He’s never been employed by the Patriots and does not have play-calling experience.

Nick Caley
2022 role: Patriots tight ends coach
Patriots connection: assistant for last eight seasons, including six as tight ends coach

The top internal coordinator candidate, Caley reportedly interviewed Wednesday for the position. He’s also met with the Jets about their offensive coordinator vacancy and, based on reports, is likely to leave this offseason if he does not land a Patriots promotion. The 39-year-old is New England’s longest-tenured offensive assistant. He has not called plays.

Adrian Klemm
2022 role: Oregon associate head coach/run game coordinator/offensive line coach
Patriots connection: Patriots player from 2000-04

This would be quite the blast from the past. Klemm, who reported is interviewing for the job, was Belichick’s very first Patriots draft pick way back in 2000 (second round, No. 46 overall). He played five seasons in New England, winning three Super Bowls as a reserve offensive lineman. The 45-year-old has just three seasons of NFL coaching experience (one as the Steelers’ O-line coach and two as an O-line assistant in Pittsburgh) but 10 more at the college level. He recently completed his first season at Oregon after logging stints at SMU and UCLA earlier in his career. The majority of Klemm’s roles have focused on the O-line and/or the running game.

Shawn Jefferson
2022 role: Arizona Cardinals associate head coach/wide receivers coach
Patriots connection: Patriots player from 1996-96; overlapped with Belichick in ’96

Like McCardell, Jefferson is a longtime NFL receivers coach with a previous connection to Belichick. He’s logged coaching stints with the Lions (2006-12), Titans (2013-15), Dolphins (2016-18), Jets (2019-20) and Cardinals (2021-present), working under Adam Gase in Miami and New York and Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona. Lions great Calvin Johnson once called him the best receivers coach he’d ever seen. Jefferson also had the title of assistant or associate head coach with the Jets and Cardinals, signifying he handled more responsibilities than a typical position coach. His interview reportedly is scheduled for Friday.

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