ORLANDO, Fla. -- The New England Patriots didn't talk in-depth with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels about his role going forward with the team, or adjust his contract, until two days after Super Bowl LII. That turn of events, McDaniels told The Boston Globe, led him to change his mind after having verbally agreed to become the Colts' coach.
The Patriots' late, aggressive pursuit of McDaniels worked out for them in this case, but the club won't have the luxury of waiting until the last minute to make such an aggressive pitch if NFL owners would have passed a rule at the annual league meetings to allow teams to formalize contracts with coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs. The measure was tabled on Tuesday.
Some were calling it the "McDaniels Rule," but his situation is far from the only one in recent years where teams have verbal agreements with coaches whose teams are still in the playoffs, and those clubs leave themselves vulnerable in the event things change.
Consider how the rule, if it had been in place for 2018, could have forced the Patriots' hand in the case of McDaniels.
Once the Colts decided that McDaniels was their choice in mid-January, they could have executed a contract with him and locked it in before the Patriots ever addressed his role in-depth or adjusted his contract. One veteran Colts reporter noted how the Patriots' late blitz actually put McDaniels in a tough spot.
I place a lot of blame on Pats organization. If they were that committed to keeping McDaniels they should have made that known when Colts asked permission to talk with him. Certainly after 2nd meeting. Never should have gotten to point it did. https://t.co/bfPNvSs89a
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) March 27, 2018
Why didn't the Patriots approach him earlier with their intentions?
Bill Belichick answered that, saying that the team's primary focus was on the playoff games and what it took to win them. But if McDaniels had been allowed to sign a contract with the Colts at the time, perhaps the team's approach would have been different if keeping him.
That is something to consider as the league considers this rule change.
As for what it means to retain McDaniels and keep the team's offensive coaching staff in place, Kraft said Monday, "Very important. I can't tell you how happy I am he is coming back. I think he’s the best offensive coordinator, and he's shown that when he’s been with us. He has a great football intellect. We're really happy he decided to stay with us."