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Nine Candidates for Remaining Patriots Offensive Assistant Jobs

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New England Patriots wide receivers coach Troy Brown on the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sep. 25, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

The New England Patriots offensive coaching staff is starting to fill out. Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was the first hire. Recently, two more coaches have been added, with a third expected shortly. With that in mind, a look at which jobs still need to be filled and who could fill them.

In addition to Van Pelt, the Patriots hired Ben McAdoo as an offensive assistant. Scott Peters joined as New England’s offensive line coach. And it is believed that T.C. McCartney has been targeted as the next quarterbacks coach. Assuming McCartney does fill the quarterbacks coach role, three position coaches are still needed to round out the staff.

New England still needs to find somebody to lead their running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Based on the previous hires, familiarity with Alex Van Pelt and/or Patriots executive Eliot Wolf is a good place to begin the search for candidates. After scouring through each of their respective NFL careers, ten candidates have emerged as strong possibilities for the three vacancies.

Running Backs Coach (3)

Stump Mitchell

Mitchell worked with both Wolf and Van Pelt in Cleveland (though the two Patriots employees did not overlap there themselves). He had an 11-year career as a running back himself, before embarking on a coaching career. The 64-year-old has spent the past 25 years coaching in the NFL, except for a three-year hiatus (2010-2012) to become head coach at Southern University. He has spent the past five seasons as running backs coach for the Browns.

Tyler Tettleton

He is currently employed as the assistant running backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Tyler Tettleton was an offensive assistant on the 2019 Browns staff. Cleveland hired him when Eliot Wolf was their assistant general manager. He then spent two years coaching in college before taking his current position in 2022. The 33-year-old is the son of former Major League Baseball All-Star Mickey Tettleton.

Seitu Smith

Smith was an offensive assistant on the 2020 Browns, taking Tettleton’s place and working under Stump Mitchell. Unlike Tettleton, he did work alongside Van Pelt in Cleveland. The Harvard graduate joined the Yale coaching staff following the 2020 NFL season. Seitu Smith spent two seasons as Yale’s running backs coach before being promoted to assistant head coach and run game coordinator for the 2023 season.

Wide Receivers Coach (4)

Bob Bicknell

The son of longtime Boston College head coach Jack Bicknell, the 54-year-old has been coaching for 31 years himself. His NFL coaching career began in 2007. He has coached offensive line and tight ends, but from 2012-to-2020 Bicknell worked as a wide receivers coach. This included two years working alongside then-QB coach Alex Van Pelt with the Cincinnati Bengals (2018-2019). He has spent the past two seasons as a senior offensive assistant with the New Orleans Saints.

Troy Brown

New England Patriots legend Troy Brown has been the wide receivers coach in Foxboro for the past two seasons. He has also worked with running backs (2020) and returners (2020-2023) during his four-year tenure on the coaching staff. Due to struggles with the production of the team’s wide receivers, Brown may not retain this position. He may remain on staff working with the return game, and possibly assisting with receivers, even if the team goes elsewhere for their wide receivers coach.

Mick Lombardi

Lombardi was New England’s wide receivers coach for two seasons (2020-2021). He joined Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas when McDaniels was named head coach of the Raiders. Lombardi was also fired alongside McDaniels midway through the 2023 season. He has yet to accept a new position. A positional coach is a step back from being an offensive coordinator, but if Lombardi wants back in the league he is not going to be given the reigns of an offense immediately. Perhaps returning to New England could be attractive.

Bob Saunders

Wolf’s first season in Cleveland (2018) featured Bob Saunders as the assistant wide receivers coach. He previously held NFL assistant jobs with Kansas City, St. Louis, and Washington. Since leaving Cleveland, Saunders has been coaching in the XFL and USFL as a wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator. The 47-year-old might be looking to return to the NFL in 2024.

Tight Ends Coach (3)

Bob Bicknell

See above for Bicknell’s resume. He was also a tight ends coach in both Kansas City and Buffalo for three seasons (2009-to-2011) before moving his focus to wide receivers. His understanding of all facets of the offensive could be a valuable asset to any coaching staff. The Massachusetts native might also be ready for a homecoming.

John Lilly

Currently the tight ends coach at the University of North Carolina, Lilly also added run game coordinator to his title in 2023. He has been with the Tar Heels for the past four seasons after spending the 2019 season with the Cleveland Browns. He also coached the Los Angeles Rams for one season (2016). 2024 will be the season No. 30 Lilly on an NCAA or NFL coaching staff. He also had college stints with Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Will Lawing

Lawing is the incumbent tight ends coach, but like Troy Brown his future with the team is uncertain. According to reports, Lawing was the only hire made by former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien in New England. Lawing had only been a tight ends coach for two seasons (2019-2010 with the Houston Texans) before leading the Patriots group last season. Having coached alongside O’Brien at four different stops, it is likely that Lawing would join the staff at Boston College if O’Brien lands the head coach opening there.

Note: If T.C. McCartney does not get the quarterbacks coach job with the Patriots, several candidates with Wolf/Van Pelt ties are out there. These include Bo Hardegree (ex-Raiders), Ryan Lindley (San Diego State), and Evan Rothstein (Patriots).

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