By Chad Graff, Manny Navarro and Bruce Feldman
After announcing a split with coach Bill Belichick last month, owner Robert Kraft insinuated that the New England Patriots might add to their front office as they navigate their new post-Belichick world.
A few weeks later, it appears they’re making meaningful additions.
The Patriots are finalizing a deal with the University of Miami’s Alonzo Highsmith to add him to their front office as an executive in personnel with a job title that’s not yet determined, a league source said.
Highsmith has been working as the general manager of football operations for Miami since 2022. Before that, he worked for the Cleveland Browns, Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.
Highsmith starred for the Hurricanes as a player in the 1980s and won a national championship there. He was drafted with the No. 3 pick in 1987 and played six years in the NFL before joining the Packers as a senior executive in 2012.
What does this mean for the Patriots?
This is another clear sign that Eliot Wolf has a leading voice within the Patriots. He was brought to New England in 2020 as a consultant and was promoted to director of scouting two years later.
Now, signs are pointing toward Wolf being the primary front-office decision-maker for the Patriots. As Jerod Mayo has built out his coaching staff in recent weeks, he’s leaned heavily on Wolf’s connections. Mayo’s new offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt, worked with Wolf in Green Bay, as did Ben McAdoo, who the Patriots are adding as an offensive assistant, and Jerry Montgomery, who the Patriots are adding as a defensive assistant coach. Now, it seems more people with connections to Wolf are entering key decision-making jobs with the Patriots.
When the Pats split with Belichick, that left a vacuum in power and decision-making within the front office. A month later, signs continue to point to Wolf taking over those powerful duties. — Chad Graff, Patriots beat writer
Highsmith’s role in Miami
Highsmith, a Hurricanes great, was a valuable resource for coach Mario Cristobal for the last two seasons as the program’s general manager of football operations. He spent a lot of time evaluating transfer prospects and working with Cristobal on administrative functions including the budget, culture building and working with staffers both on and off the field.
Miami has signed back-to-back top-10 recruiting classes and picked up former Washington State starting quarterback Cam Ward via the portal this offseason. Highsmith ultimately accomplished what he wanted in helping bring talent to his alma mater and helping Cristobal change the culture. — Manny Navarro, Miami beat writer
What he meant to the Hurricanes
Optically Highsmith was a big hire for Cristobal and Miami because his reputation both in the NFL world and the UM football community was so respected. Highsmith knew what it took to build UM into a powerhouse, and for a program that had been reeling for two decades, his arrival was a welcome sight, a much-needed ego boost.
On the job, Highsmith was the main guy for the Canes when it came to evaluating prospects. Inside the program, according to UM sources, he was seen as a big asset because he had such a keen, trained eye. Coaches and personnel staffers leaned on him. Everything filtered up to Highsmith, but ultimately Cristobal was the final decision-maker on that front which is different than the NFL world. — Bruce Feldman, senior college football insider
(Photo: Nick Cammett / Diamond Images via Getty Images)