According to multiple online and published reports, former Browns GM Mike Lombardi is set to join the Patriots front office in an undisclosed position. There has been no official announcement from the team.
Lombardi has long been a friend of Bill Belichick's, and the pair previously worked together in Cleveland in the early 1990s. During that tenure Lombardi was promoted to director of player personnel while Belichick was the Browns head coach.
Lombardi has a long NFL record as a talent evaluator. He was the Senior Personnel Executive with the Raiders from 1998-2007, working closely with late Oakland owner Al Davis. Lombardi got his start in the NFL as a scout working under Bill Walsh with the 49ers from 1984-87. He's also spent time in various capacities working for the Rams and Eagles, while working in the media for National Football Post and NFL Network/NFL.com.
According to the Boston Globe, Lombardi was essentially a consultant for Belichick while he was working in the media prior to taking the Browns job in 2013. After lasting barely a year in Cleveland with his surprising firing last week, Lombardi will now apparently turn his previous relationship with Belichick into a more formal role in New England.
"All the while he was in close contact with Belichick, consulting on personnel matters and game plans," the Globe said of Lombardi's time in the media. "Lombardi was influential in particular during the Patriots' 2010-12 drafts, which have proven to be more successful than the two or three draft classes immediately preceding that period."
This would not be the first time that a Lombardi has had a role in the Patriots personnel department. Mike Lombardi's son, Mick, worked in New England as both a scouting and coaching assistant before moving on to San Francisco last spring to become the assistant to head coach Jim Harbaugh.
The elder Lombardi (who is no relative to Vince Lombardi) is clearly an experienced evaluator of NFL talent and at the very least could offer another voice in the team-building process. He has experience dealing with college and professional players, as well as contracts. Given the fact that Nick Caserio was a finalist for the Dolphins GM job this winter, Lombardi could be seen as insurance if New England's director of player personnel decides to move on in the near future. He may also just be an advisor, similar to the role of Senior Football Advisor that Floyd Reese, another longtime Belichick friend, held with the Patriots from 2009-12.
Few people have a more impressive list of professional mentors. Aside from his short second stint in Cleveland, Lombardi's bosses over the bulk of the last 20-plus years have been Hall of Famers Walsh and Davis, as well as future Canton resident Belichick.
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