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Pees out as defensive coordinator

01.14.10 at 5:27 pm ET
By
AFC Championship Football

Pees has served as New England's defensive coordinator the last four seasons. (AP)

Patriots’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees will not be back with the Patriots in 2010.

Pees spent the last four seasons in New England as defensive coordinator. Prior to that, he spent two years as the Patriots linebackers coach.

Pees issued a statement late Thursday afternoon through the team, saying his contract had ended and he was leaving to “pursue other opportunities.”

“My contract with the New England Patriots will expire in a couple of weeks and I have informed Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick that I will not seek to renew it. I enjoyed my time in New England, but feel this is the right time to pursue other opportunities.

“I had the privilege of working with some great coaches and great players over the past six seasons and leave the Patriots with some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to the players and coaching staff, I want to thank the Kraft family, the media and the fans for all of their support.”

Pees led a defense that finished 11th overall this past season, but was lacking in many significant areas, including overall pass defense.

Named the defensive coordinator on Bill Belichick’s staff on January 17, 2006. Pees served as the Patriots’ linebackers coach from 2004-05. Pees joined Belichick’s staff prior to the 2004 season after a tenure as the head coach at Kent State.

The Patriots have averaged less than 20 points per game allowed in every season that Pees has been defensive coordinator. However, before the start of the 2009 season, the New England defense underwent tremendous change on the defensive side of the ball, as veterans like Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour were either traded, retired or released.

With all the changes, the 2009 defense was still fifth in fewest points allowed, but still struggled in many key areas, including pass rush — New England finished with just 31 sacks, tied for 23rd in the league.

Late in the season, Pees had a bit of a health scare when he was rushed to a Houston hospital during the regular-season finale against the Texans with shortness of breath. The 60-year-old  underwent a battery of tests that evening and passed them all, and returned to Boston the following day. In addition, Pees told Boston.com on Thursday night he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery over the summer. (He said he is now cancer-free.) He also said he suffered from a blood clot in his leg.

Among possible candidates to replace Pees are defensive line coach Pepper Johnson and linebackers coach Matt Patricia.

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