EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants and New England Patriots assistant Joe Judge are working on a deal for him to become the team’s head coach, a surprising move for the four-time Super Bowl-winning franchise that tumbled to the bottom of the NFL in recent years, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the deal is not done.
Mentored by Bill Belichick and Nick Saban in a 15-year career, Judge would become a head coach for the first time. At 38, he would be one of the youngest NFL coaches.
Judge has won three Super Bowls with New England in eight years as an assistant on Belichick’s staff. He was the fifth candidate the Giants interviewed since firing Pat Shurmur on Dec. 30. Among those, Mike McCarthy agreed Monday to become the Dallas Cowboys’ new coach and Matt Rhule, who was supposed to interview with New York, is headed to the Carolina Panthers, according to people familiar with those situations.
The third new coach tabbed for the NFC East in a week — Ron Rivera was hired by the Washington Redskins on Wednesday — Judge would take over a team that went 4-12 and 5-11 in Shurmur’s two seasons and has been to the playoffs just once since winning the Super Bowl after the 2011 season. He would be the Giants’ fourth head coach since Tom Coughlin was let go after the 2015 season. Ben McAdoo, hired in 2016, didn’t last two seasons. Steve Spagnuolo, currently Kansas City’s defensive coordinator, served as interim coach after McAdoo was fired in ‘17.
But Judge, the Patriots’ special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach, would inherit a team with a talented young quarterback in Daniel Jones and former rookie of the year running back Saquon Barkley. The Giants have the fourth pick in this year’s draft and approximately $85 million in cap money to spend.
The Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in the wild-card round.
Judge joined the Patriots as a special teams assistant in 2012 and helped guide the team to Super Bowls titles in the 2014, ‘16 and ‘18 seasons.
Before joining New England, he spent three years in the same role under Saban at Alabama. He won titles with the Crimson Tide in 2009 and ‘11. He also coached at Mississippi State and Birmingham-Southern.
With Judge as special teams coordinator since 2015, New England consistently ranked as one of the NFL’s top units. He added receivers to his responsibilities in 2019. He coached kicker Stephen Gostkowski to the All-Pro team in 2015 and special teams captain Matt Slater to the same honors in 2016 and this season.
Belichick called Judge “an excellent coach” and said he excelled in his added duties this season.
“Joe’s done a great job. He’s done a great job with the kicking game,” Belichick said. “He’s expanded the role a little bit and that’s kind of had a little bit of a ripple effect in the way we’ve organized the kicking game, but that’s all worked out pretty efficiently. Joe’s done a good job of organizing that, as well as taking care on some other things with the offense and particularly receivers.”
Judge met with Giants co-owner John Mara, general manager Dave Gettleman and vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams at the team’s New Jersey headquarters on Monday.
The Giants had been expected this week to interview Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Baylor’s Rhule.
Others interviewed were Kris Richard, the Dallas defensive assistant coach and former Seattle defensive coordinator; Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy; and Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale.