Alonzo Highsmith is leaving the University of Miami after two years to return to the NFL. Nick Cammett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The Patriots are hiring longtime NFL executive and former player Alonzo Highsmith to their front office in a role to be determined, according to multiple reports.

Highsmith’s arrival indicates that Eliot Wolf, the director of scouting, has expanding influence within the organization. Highsmith and Wolf climbed the Packers’ front office together from 2004-17, then left for Cleveland for two seasons. Wolf later joined the Patriots in 2020 as a consultant, while Highsmith left to become a senior executive advisor in Seattle and later the general manager of football operations at the University of Miami in 2022.

Highsmith, 53, has 23 years of experience in NFL front offices. He joined Green Bay’s staff as a college scout in 1999 and has spent most of his career in college scouting. He entered the league as the No. 3 overall pick in the 1987 draft as a running back out of Miami, but lasted just six seasons as an NFL player.

His addition follows several outside coaching hires with connections to Wolf. Last week the Patriots hired ex-Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, who has since brought in former Giants head coach and Packers assistant Ben McAdoo, and now a former Browns assistant, T.C. McCartney, to be the new quarterbacks coach.

Inside the front office, director of player personnel Matt Groh is the highest-ranking holdover from the Bill Belichick era. Groh recently led a contingent of scouts to the Senior Bowl, an annual showcase for college prospects. His background is primarily in college scouting, and unlike Wolf and Highsmith, Groh has only ever worked in New England.

LONG SNAPPER Joe Cardona won the NFL’s Salute to Service award Wednesday, the league announced.


The award recognizes the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL family to honor and support the military community. Cardona is a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve and will be recognized at NFL Honors on Thursday night, a primetime awards show aired from Las Vegas.

Cardona is the 13th winner of the award and a nine-year NFL starter. He entered the league as a fifth-round pick out of Navy in 2015. Cardona also serves as the department head of Maritime Security Squadron 8, headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island. He oversees the logistical needs of 500 sailors across the eastern seaboard, and has supported efforts in Africa and the Korean peninsula.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive the NFL Salute to Service Award. I am thankful to the New England Patriots’ organization for accommodating my military service, and I hope to be a model for future players who wish to serve,” Cardona said in the statement.

Cardona is highly involved in the community and supports military families through organizations like the Travis Manion Foundation, dedicated to empowering veterans and families of fallen heroes. He also contributes at events, such as the Brothers of Life, which brings together Americans and Israeli wounded soldiers.

T.C. MCCARTNEY, the new quarterbacks coach, spent the past four years with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt in Cleveland. He coached tight ends the last two seasons after rejoining the organization as an offensive assistant. McCartney previously coached Broncos quarterbacks in 2019 and worked as a 49ers offensive assistant under Coach Kyle Shanahan from 2017-18.

Last season, Cleveland tight end David Njoku reached his first Pro Bowl, and set career highs in catches (81), yards (882) and touchdowns (6) under McCartney. Njoku produced despite playing with five quarterbacks, who worked directly with Van Pelt during a surprising playoff campaign.

McCartney, 34, is the first position coach added to Van Pelt’s offensive staff. Earlier this week the Patriots hired Ben McAdoo as a senior offensive assistant and former Packers defensive line coach Jerry Mongtomery to the same position.

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