FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The Patriots have started discussions for a long-term contract extension with linebackers coach Jerod Mayo and Bill Belichick will also begin interviewing candidates for offensive coordinator next week.

The team made the announcements in a statement Thursday. It comes on the heels of Mayo being sought for the second straight offseason for interviews for one of the NFL’s open head coaching jobs. The Carolina Panthers are the latest team to request permission to talk to him, Mayo also interviewed last offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Patriots are looking to hire their first offensive coordinator since Josh McDaniels left following the 2021 season to take the Las Vegas Raiders head coaching job. Matt Patricia, an assistant with an extensive defensive pedigree, served as the Patriots’ primary offensive play-caller this season.

But the unit struggled, with second-year quarterback Mac Jones regressing during an underachieving season that had the Patriots’ offense ranked in the bottom half of the league in points per game and red zone touchdowns.

Mayo, 36, played eight seasons and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots during the 2014 season before being hired as an assistant in 2019.

Well-respected among New England players, he has made no secret that he has head coaching aspirations.

“That’s never changed,” Mayo said last month. “I think I’m ready to be a head coach in the league.”