The Patriots hired Alex Van Pelt as their new offensive coordinator, but they reportedly came close to another candidate.

New England surprisingly announced the former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator following multiple reported interviews that didn’t include his name. Nick Caley reportedly was a finalist, but there might have been conflicts when it came to his contract.

Sports Illustrated Albert Breer wrote in a column this week that Caley did receive a “competitive” offer and was New England’s first choice for the position. However, the former tight ends coach had a specific reason to stay in Los Angeles.

“It was tough to say no,” Breer wrote. “But Caley had such a good experience last year with the Rams, that the idea of leaving was more difficult than turning down a coordinator job. So he stayed, and (Sean) McVay, as I’ve heard the story, was ecstatic that he did (and McVay showed that emphatically on the phone with Caley when he was told he was staying).”

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Van Pelt reportedly was let go by Cleveland because it wanted someone who could be a better fit for Deshaun Watson. The offensive coordinator seems like a good fit with Mayo’s vision for the Patriots. But the head coach was tight-lipped this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis when it came to who was his first choice for offensive coordinator.

“I don’t want to comment on that,” Mayo told MassLive’s Karen Guregian. “We’re happy with (Alex Van Pelt) and the staff the two of us have put together, along with Eliot (Wolf), too.”

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Wolf affirmed what the Patriots want in their offense, and those preparations will continue to be made as the Scouting Combine gets underway.

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