Los Angeles: New England Patriots coach Josh McDaniels stunned the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday, dramatically reversing an earlier decision to join the franchise and opting to stay in Boston.
The Colts had confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in the NFL earlier on Tuesday, saying Patriots offensive coordinator McDaniels had agreed to join the Colts as head coach.
McDaniels, a close confidante of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and a key lieutenant of head coach Bill Belichick, was due to be formally unveiled at a press conference on Wednesday.
But in a shocking U-turn late on Tuesday, the Colts announced that McDaniels, 41, had changed his mind.
“After agreeing to contract terms to become the Indianapolis Colts’ new head coach, New England Patriots assistant coach Josh McDaniels this evening informed us that he would not be joining our team,” the Colts said in a statement.
“Although we are surprised and disappointed, we will resume our head coaching search immediately and find the right fit to lead our team and organisation on and off the field.”
McDaniels’s departure was one of the most prominent off-season changes expected at the Patriots, who suffered an upset 41-33 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
However, ESPN reported that Patriots owner Robert Kraft had lobbied McDaniels to rethink, and ultimately persuaded him to stay with an offer of an improved contract.
McDaniels has won five Super Bowls with the Patriots in two separate stints with the franchise.
On Monday, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia confirmed his departure. He will join the Detroit Lions as head coach.
The Patriots, meanwhile, may also face personnel changes, with star tight end Rob Gronkowski hinting he may retire in the aftermath of Sunday’s Super Bowl loss in Minneapolis.
“I’m definitely going to look at my future for sure,” Gronkowski told reporters. “I’m going to sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at,” he added.