Patriots follow succession plan: Jerod Mayo replaces Bill Belichick

Hand-picked successor Jerod Mayo was elevated to head coach by the New England Patriots on Friday, one day after the organization bid farewell to Bill Belichick.

Mayo, 37, was identified in 2023 as the coach-in-waiting as part of owner Robert Kraft’s succession plan in the event Belichick wasn’t retained.

The team made the official announcement Friday afternoon on social media. He will be introduced officially as the head coach in a news conference on Wednesday.

Under NFL rules, the contractual replacement plan erases the requirement for the Patriots to follow league hiring rules. It is not known if Kraft interviewed additional candidates or discussed the opening with other members of the current Patriots’ staff, many of whom are under contract even after Belichick’s departure.

Hiring a general manager to fill the other part of Belichick’s dual role is the next order of business in Foxborough. According to reports, the plan is to include Mayo in the decision process before hiring a personnel boss in New England.

The “Patriot Way” will be nothing new for Mayo. He played linebacker for the Patriots and served as inside linebackers coach and has not coached — or played — outside the organization.

Mayo said after Sunday’s season-ending loss to the New York Jets that he felt prepared for when his opportunity came, perhaps knowing it was imminent.

“When I think about when I do get my opportunity, I don’t know when that’s going to be. Honestly, I’m kind of like a dry leaf blowing in the wind, wherever (it) takes me,” Mayo said. “But at the same time, I feel like I’m prepared. I feel like I’m ready. I look forward to the opportunity, wherever that may be.”

Kraft shared that Mayo was a candidate to eventually replace Belichick at the league’s March meetings in 2023.

Belichick, who turns 72 in April, drafted Mayo 10th overall in 2008 out of Tennessee and the two-time Pro Bowl pick played with New England until 2015. Mayo has been on the Patriots’ staff since 2019.

He was a member of the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX-winning roster in 2015.