Patriots in discussions with Dante Scarnecchia on return to coaching staff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have an opening for an offensive line coach, and they have been in discussions with longtime assistant Dante Scarnecchia about coming out of retirement to fill the void, according to league sources.

While Scarnecchia retired after the 2013 season, he has remained around the team, primarily helping with evaluations of college offensive linemen entering the NFL. Scarnecchia's willingness to discuss a return to the coaching staff in 2016 is an indication that his retirement from coaching might be short-lived, as one source said that it would be a surprise at this point if he isn’t back on the Patriots sideline for next season.

Scarnecchia had retired after 32 seasons in the NFL, 30 of which came in New England (1982-88; 1991-2013). He coached the offensive line for his final 15 seasons in New England.

“Dante Scarnecchia is a Patriot and NFL legend who defied the phrase ‘not for long’,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said at the time of his retirement. “In an industry of constant change, Dante remained a fixture here for the simple reason that he helped every player reach his highest potential, regardless of who he was, how he was acquired, or how much raw talent he had. In whatever category a coach can be assessed -- evaluator, teacher, motivator, problem-solver, disciplinarian, team player, winner -- Dante is as good as it gets.”

Scarnecchia, who turns 68 on Feb. 14, earned the 2015 Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman Award by the Professional Football Writers of America. The award is given for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach.

The Patriots hired Dave DeGuglielmo to replace Scarnecchia in 2014, but when DeGuglielmo’s contract expired after the 2015 season, it wasn’t renewed. DeGuglielmo has since been hired by the San Diego Chargers as assistant offensive line coach.