Former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is returning to New England as an assistant coach, though his exact role is uncertain. Duane Burleson/Associated Press

Though the New England Patriots haven’t lost any of their assistants this offseason, Coach Bill Belichick is making room for former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.

The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride reports that Patricia, who was the head coach of the Detroit Lions until he was fired in November, “will assist the Patriots coaching staff in a variety of roles,” and he’s bringing Lions assistant Evan Rothstein, too.

Steve Belichick called plays for New England’s defense this season, so it remains to be seen whether his role will change. The Patriots haven’t named a defensive coordinator since Patricia left in 2017.

Patricia was fired by Detroit after amassing a 13-29-1 record as head coach. Before that, he spent 14 seasons on Belichick’s staff, rising through the ranks to become the team’s defensive coordinator. During that time, Belichick spoke glowingly of Patricia’s knowledge.

“He’s really smart. This guy could probably build a plane and fly it,” Belichick said back in 2015. “Like this guy is smart-smart … He’s got great recall and a really high IQ level in terms of just processing a lot of information. He’s the type of guy that can keep a lot of balls in the air.”

Rothstein’s most recent title in Detroit was “head coach assistant/research and analysis,” and the team’s website says “Rothstein works with the coaching staff in all facets of preparation for the team’s weekly opponents.”

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