Patriots Rumors: What Bill O’Brien Is Doing During OC Search

O'Brien still has a month left on his Alabama contract

by

January 18

The New England Patriots launched their offensive coordinator search in earnest this week.

On Wednesday, they reportedly interviewed tight ends coach Nick Caley and requested to interview Minnesota Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, who does not have any direct Patriots connections but played for Bill Belichick in Cleveland in the early 1990s.

But what about Bill O’Brien? Multiple outlets have indicated he’s the front-runner for this job, but as of Wednesday afternoon, none had reported that he’d interviewed with the Patriots or received a request to do so.

A new report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport might explain why.

Rapoport said Wednesday on NFL Network that “most people believe (O’Brien) is the favorite” to become New England’s next offensive coordinator, but that he’s still fulfilling his obligations to his current employer, Nick Saban and the University of Alabama.

“(He) is right now out recruiting,” Rapoport said.

The two-year contract O’Brien signed at Alabama expires Feb. 28. It’s unclear whether Belichick, a longtime friend of Saban’s, will wait until that point to interview O’Brien, or whether O’Brien will meet with the Patriots while finishing off his final Crimson Tide duties.

Waiting until late February to complete their interview process would limit the Patriots’ options, as other qualified candidates likely would have taken jobs elsewhere by that point. But again, it’s not clear that that is Belichick’s plan.

O’Brien served on Belichick’s staff from 2007-11 and was the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach and offensive play-caller for the final three of those seasons, including one year as the official OC. He also briefly overlapped with Mac Jones upon his arrival in Tuscaloosa, with Jones reportedly helping him learn Alabama’s offense ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

“He has firmly established position as someone that many people inside the (Patriots’) organization want back,” Rapoport said.

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