The start of the offseason has brought about a change to the Patriots coaching staff, and it wouldn't be surprising to see more. According to ESPNBoston's Mike Reiss, longtime assistant Pepper Johnson is leaving the team after spending the past 14 years as part of Bill Belichick's staff in New England.
Reiss included a statement from Johnson with the news:
"Today marks a new day for me. Today is a new day full of promise and hope. It is also a day to reflect, as I embark upon a new journey. Today is the first day in 13 years that I am not a part of the New England Patriots, although I will always be a Patriot in my heart. Today also marks the first day in 26 years that I am not working in some capacity with one of greatest head coaches of all time, as well as my friend, Bill Belichick.
- "Football is my life. From putting my body on the line, my hand in the dirt, to teaching others to do the same, this will continue for me ... I have big dreams and goals and they all involve football. So as I soak in this new day and embark on wherever my new path takes me, I shall embrace this new chapter in my life.*
- "I thank the entire New England Patriot organization for the last 13 years of my life. I am proud of all the things we have accomplished. The Kraft family is one of a kind and I will always be grateful to them and hold them in the highest regard. Bill Belichick and I have been working together in some capacity for 26 years and I am who I am because of it. To have 5 Super Bowl rings (2 as a player 3 as a coach) and all of them with Bill has been a blessing. I could never have asked for a better coach/boss/friend in those 26 years. Thanks for always supporting me and I know Bill will continue to support me no matter what.*
- "Thank you New England Patriot fans I will miss you the most."*
Johnson began in 2000 as the Patriots assistant linebackers coach, worked with inside linebackers from 2001-03 and then went to the defensive line from 2004-11. He moved back to work with the linebackers the last two seasons.