New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick refused to allow longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to move up his scheduled interviews with teams interested in him as a head coaching candidate to the start of this week, league sources said, at the same time he pushed special teams coordinator Joe Judge for the New York Giants‘ coaching vacancy and greenlit a Monday interview for him.
Belichick and owner Robert Kraft have long been worried about losing McDaniels, who has a very strong bond with Hall of Fame free agent quarterback Tom Brady and is one of the best play designers and play callers in football. Kraft and Belichick went to great lengths to persuade McDaniels not pull out of his agreement to become head coach of the Colts in 2017, as is well documented, and Belichick has a reputation for being difficult to work with when it comes to other teams looking to hire an assistant he does not want to lose.
Despite New England being eliminated from the playoffs in the Wild Card round Saturday night, multiple sources from teams that had requested interviews with McDaniels said Belichick would not relent to move up their window to speak with McDaniels in the immediate days following that defeat. Brady’s future is very much in limbo, with the 42-year old quarterback contemplating playing elsewhere in 2020, sources said, which would make retaining McDaniels even more paramount as there is no set replacement on staff and Brady has been in one offense his entire career.
At the same time, Belichick was advocating for Judge for the Giants job, knowing that they couldn’t hire both him and McDaniels. The Browns, Giants, and Panthers all requested interviews with McDaniels at the conclusion of the regular season. Belichick would not allow McDaniels to meet the Panthers on Monday, the same day Judge was interviewing with the Giants; Baylor coach Matt Rhule met with the Panthers on Tuesday and was hired by Wednesday.
McDaniels did eventually interview with the Browns on Friday; he was set to meet with the Panthers in New England on Tuesday and with the Giants in New York on Wednesday, prior to both teams filling their vacancies, sources said
The Panthers were extremely high on McDaniels, sources said, and had his interview been before Rhule’s it is quite possible owner David Tepper would have acted to quickly hire him as well. That was not the case – McDaniels and Rhule are both represented by Athlete’s First – and Rhule was hired by Tuesday with the Giants not wanting to risk losing Judge to Mississippi State or McDaniels to go elsewhere, they hired Judge within hours of the Panthers landing Rhule, whom New York sought to interview on Tuesday.