The Patriots are reportedly set to hop on the NFL coaching carousel after Thursday’s massive if not totally unsurprising reports they are parting ways with longtime head coach Bill Belichick.

Robert Kraft and the Patriots now have to do something they haven’t done in two-and-a-half decades: execute a coaching search. It’s telling that in the initial reporting of the Belichick decision New England linebackers coach Jerod Mayo was mentioned as not only a candidate but perhaps the leader in the clubhouse to succeed the legendary Belichick.

That’s not to say there aren’t other options, though. One coaching free agent who’s expected to get plenty of attention not only in New England but across the league is former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. The Titans fired Vrabel earlier this week, leading many to speculate the former Patriots linebacker and team Hall of Famer would be in the running if and when Belichick was gone.

As good as that combination might look on paper, Vrabel might ultimately land elsewhere. One team to keep an eye on might be the Las Vegas Raiders, who also have a vacancy after firing Josh McDaniels in the middle of the second season.

Story continues below advertisement

Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer made the compelling case for Vrabel to the Raiders during an appearance Thursday morning on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Hardy” program. Breer was on to discuss the Belichick news, and when talking about the possibility of Vrabel, he mentioned the presence of one Tom Brady in Las Vegas could tip the scales in the Raiders’ favor.

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Brady, of course, is in line to join the Raiders’ ownership group. That process has been delayed, and Brady still isn’t officially part of the group, but according to reports, Brady was at the team facility last week prior to the Raiders’ season finale. He seemingly will have a hand in the Raiders’ coaching search, if it’s simply a formality that he’ll eventually be in the fold with Mark Davis and his group.

It just so happens, too, that Brady is good friends with Vrabel. The Titans and Vrabel were one of the teams recruiting Brady back in 2020 after Brady left the Patriots. Vrabel even went semi-viral when Brady and former Patriots receiver Julian Edelman were on a FaceTime call with him at a Syracuse basketball game that winter.

Story continues below advertisement

“He’s been a good friend for a long time,” Brady told reporters at Patriots-Titans joint practices ahead of the 2019 season. “Obviously done a great job leading this team. Proud of him for everything he’s accomplished and I’ll support him even though he’s coaching for another team.”

The Raiders could also offer Vrabel added influence on personnel, as Vegas also has a front-office opening.

One other potential wrinkle to this whole thing is what comes of Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio raised an interesting hypothetical Thursday about Tomlin, who Florio speculates could walk away if the Steelers lose Sunday to the Buffalo Bills. Vrabel started his playing career with the Steelers and is from Akron, Ohio, roughly 100 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

It’s all just something to keep in mind as the carousel picks up speed in the coming days.

Story continues below advertisement

Featured image via George Walker IV / via USA TODAY Sports Images