FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Moving swiftly one day after parting ways with legendary coach Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots hired Jerod Mayo as his successor and the 15th head coach in franchise history, the team announced Friday.
Mayo, 37, is set to be formally introduced at a news conference Wednesday. He will be the youngest coach in the NFL, taking over a title that Sean McVay has held since being named Los Angeles Rams coach in 2017; Mayo is a month younger than McVay.
A linebacker for the Patriots from 2008 to 2015 after being selected in the first round of the draft out of Tennessee, Mayo joined Belichick's coaching staff in 2019, serving as linebackers coach.
The Patriots were able to forgo the standard NFL hiring process and immediately hire Mayo because they established a succession plan in the contract extension he signed last offseason, similar to what the Baltimore Ravens did with their general manager position when Eric DeCosta succeeded Ozzie Newsome in 2019.
Mayo becomes the first Black head coach in Patriots history.
He had notable support among players in the locker room, especially on defense. When news of Belichick leaving broke, one defender said in a text: "I hope they give it to Mayo. He deserves it."
As a player, Mayo was named team captain in his second season, with some players referring to him as Bill Jr. because they viewed him as a future coach who spent countless hours at the team facility, like Belichick himself.
Belichick, 71, and the Patriots announced Thursday that he would leave the team after 24 seasons as coach that included six Super Bowl titles. The decision to part ways was made after meetings between Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, with Belichick saying it was time to "move on."
Mayo spent his entire playing career in New England, appearing in 103 games and totaling 905 tackles. He led the team in tackles each of his first five seasons and became just the second Patriots player to win the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He was part of one Super Bowl championship team, in 2014, although limited to six games that season because of a leg injury.
Upon his retirement after the 2015 season, Mayo worked in finance for Optum, a health care services provider. He has cited how that experience, coupled with working under Belichick, set him up to one day become a head coach.
"I feel like I'm prepared. I feel like I'm ready," Mayo said in early January. "I feel like I can talk to men, women, old, young, white, Black -- it doesn't matter. And hopefully develop those people into upstanding citizens and help them evolve. That's how I think about it. I feel like my calling is to develop."
Mayo recently shared that building relationships with players is a foundational part of his coaching style.
"I coach out of love. Once you build that relationship with a guy, you can be tough on the players," he said. "But if you don't have that warmth before confidence; it was a little different when I played. Whatever the coach told you to do, you just go out and do it. But this generation is a little bit different. They want to understand the 'why.'"