How the Patriots hiring Bill O'Brien signals a big shift in their philosophy

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The days of Bill Belichick’s coaching staff being filled with lowly paid underlings and recently fired mentees appear to be over.

With Bill O’Brien’s hiring, the Patriots have signaled they are willing to pay legitimate money for experienced assistants, which hasn’t been the case over the last couple of years. This season, for example, both Matt Patricia and Joe Judge were getting paid by their former teams.

As NFL Media’s Mike Giardi mentions, it’s another sign the Patriots are changing their direction. Adrian Klemm, who currently serves as Oregon’s assistant head coach, makes around $1 million annually. The Patriots are reportedly planning to meet with Klemm again about another position on the offensive staff.

Belichick is the highest-paid coach in sports, earning around $20 million annually (NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran said on WEEI recently the figure is probably closer to $30 million). With that in mind, it’s fair to assume Belichick takes up a large chunk of the money allocated towards the coaching staff.

But this season showed the value of strong assistants. Mac Jones shined in his rookie season under Josh McDaniels, and then took a dramatic step back with Patricia and Judge (Patricia is rumored to possibly leave the team this offseason).

It’s been an unusual offseason for the Patriots already. Robert Kraft sent an email to season ticket holders pledging the team would scrutinize every aspect of its football operations, and then shortly thereafter, the Patriots sent out a press release announcing they were in contract extension talks with Jerod Mayo. The press release also publicized their offensive coordinator search.

According to reports, Mayo was present during the offensive coordinator interviews, indicating that he could be moving into an associate head coach-type role. It’s notable that Mayo turned down a head coaching interview with the Panthers.

Presumably, the Patriots promised Mayo an expanded role, and more money.

At 70 years old, Belichick will likely benefit from taking on less responsibility, and operating more as a CEO. The team probably will, too.

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