Robert Kraft eyes Jerod Mayo as Bill Belichick’s potential Patriots ‘heir apparent’

The Patriots are figuring out what comes next.

The soon-to-be 71-year-old head coach helped lead New England to six Super Bowl wins, but the franchise has struggled since Tom Brady’s departure in 2020.

With Bill Belichick’s NFL time winding down — and several of his top coordinators having been poached away over the years — it seems the Patriots are looking at ex-linebacker Jerod Mayo as the coach’s potential replacement.

“Well, he’s definitely a strong candidate to be the heir apparent, but we have some other good people in our system,” New England owner Robert Kraft told NFL Network at the NFL Annual Meeting on Monday. “So right now, we have a good head coach, and we’re doing everything we can to support him, and make sure we do everything we can to win.”

In January, as their offseason began early for the second time in three seasons, the Patriots put out a 39-word statement saying they had “begun contract extension discussions” with Mayo in the hopes to keep him in the fold “long-term.”

It was a stunning amount of information for the notoriously tight-lipped franchise to give away, and it came after a season in which the Patriots finished 8-9 and struggled offensively under Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick works the sideline
Bill Belichick’s Patriots time is coming to a close sometime soon.

Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo faces reporters
Jerod Mayo received a vote of confidence from Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Belichick’s handing the offensive reins over to Patricia and Judge — in murky, never-officially-defined roles — was not something Kraft particularly enjoyed, either.

“I think he got put in a difficult position; it was sort of an experiment,” Kraft said of Patricia. “He worked very hard at it. In retrospect, I don’t think it was the right thing. I feel bad for him because he is such a hard worker and he got put in a difficult position.”

Belichick did bring back his former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien to help right the ship — and aid Mac Jones’s continued development, even if he won’t name the third-year QB his starter.

For Kraft, finding the right head coach in an upcoming post-Belichick world is important in helping bring the franchise back to the playoffs consistently again.

Owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots reacts before a game
Robert Kraft wants to see his franchise return to its winning ways.
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“Very important. I think that’s our objective,” Kraft said. “We’ve gone through four years where we haven’t [won the Super Bowl]. We’ve been spoiled, but after my family, my passion [is] the Patriots football team and winning football games and that’s a great turn-on for me. So last year was tough. I’m a fan first. I sat in the stands for 30, 40 years, dreaming if I ever had a chance, what I would do.

“So we want to get back to winning as best we can.”