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With Belichick out, Vikings' Flores immediately linked as possible Patriots successor

Everything Kevin O'Connell said Wednesday indicates that he expects Flores back in Minnesota next season.
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Brian Flores' name has been lumped in with potential replacements for Bill Belichick in New England, but there's nothing to indicate that he's anything more than an outsider looking in at his former employer. 

Flores, after a stunning year redeveloping Minnesota's defense, seems to be behind current Patriots defensive coordinator Jerod Mayo and Mike Vrabel, who was fired by the Titans earlier this week, as the leading candidates to succeed Belichick in New England. 

ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that Mayo "projects to be a, if not the, leading candidate for the job." ESPN's Dan Graziano is reporting that Mayo, Vabel and Flores are the "most likely" options to succeed Belichick. 

On Dec. 31, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport filed a joint report in which they said Mayo isn't a lock to replace Belichick if Belichick moves on after 24 years leading the Patriots. 

"If Belichick does move on, speculation has centered on Mayo as his successor. That's not a guarantee, though, and other options -- particular coaches with Patriots ties, such as Josh McDaniels or Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores -- shouldn't be ruled out," they reported. 

Flores has not been linked to any of the head coaching vacancies around the league, and there are plenty of them since the Commanders, Seahawks, Falcons, Chargers, Titans, Panthers and possibly the Raiders (and maybe even the Bears) are looking for a new coach. 

Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell, during his season-ending press conference on Wednesday, seemed to indicate that Flores will be back with the Vikings next season. 

"I’m excited about our coaching staff. I feel very strongly about our coordinators and ultimately the leadership in this organization that I get blessed to work with every single day," O'Connell said at the outset of his press conference. 

He later added this specific quote about Flores: 

"I think the most exciting thing is where Flo is going to take that defense from here, and as we can improve our depth and continue to add pieces to that to that side of the football. I have so much confidence in what he's going to be able to do on that side of the ball."

Brian Flores

Brian Flores