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Alabama coach Nick Saban says he has ‘no indication’ that Bill O’Brien will leave to join the Patriots

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy in Bill O'Brien's first season as offensive coordinator.Kevin C. Cox/Getty

MOBILE, Ala. — Could Massachusetts native Bill O’Brien return to New England next season?

Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wednesday he has “no indication” that O’Brien plans to leave his role as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Crimson Tide for a position in the NFL.

“Bill has done a great job for us,” Saban said. “Bill has had a very successful career. I don’t think Bill is trying to leave. I think he likes it at Alabama. We have an opportunity with some pretty good players at the quarterback position and other positions to maybe continue to grow and develop and continue to grow offensively. I think he’s looking forward to that challenge.”


O’Brien, 52, has been floated as a potential replacement for Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator named head coach of the Raiders this week. O’Brien’s previous experience with Patriots — five seasons on Bill Belichick’s staff — makes him a logical candidate.

Saban hired O’Brien in January 2021 to work with sophomore Bryce Young, who took over for Mac Jones as the Tide’s starting quarterback. Young ended up leading the SEC with 4,872 passing yards and 47 touchdowns, winning the Heisman Trophy.

What does the future hold for Bill O'Brien?Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

If O’Brien returns for a second year, he’ll continue to work with Young, who is not eligible to declare for the NFL Draft until after the 2022 season. If O’Brien departs for the Patriots, he’ll get work with Young’s predecessor, Jones.

“If guys work hard and do a good job for you, if they get opportunities to go someplace else, I want to support them and help them if it benefits them and their family,” Saban said.

There is no timeline on the Patriots’ plans to replace McDaniels. The team could also make an internal move by promoting tight ends coach Nick Caley or wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi.


The Bills, who lost offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to the Giants, recently promoted passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey to offensive coordinator and hired former Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady as their quarterbacks coach.

Nicole Yang can be reached at her @nicolecyang.