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Bill Belichick leaving Patriots after 24 seasons, sources say

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Bill Belichick leaving Patriots after 24 seasons, sources say
Google News Recentlyheard

Google News Recentlyheard

Mike Reiss covers the New England Patriots for ESPN as an NFL reporter. Reiss joined ESPN in 2009 and has covered the Patriots since 1997. In 2019, he was selected Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Reiss’s Twitter handle is @MikeReiss.

According to league sources that spoke to ESPN, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots are scheduled to split ways on Thursday after an incredible 24 seasons together. This will put an end to an NFL run that is unequaled and that included six Super Bowl championships.

Belichick and Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, met for the better part of this week to discuss the respective plans for each side. There was reportedly no argument or confrontation, according to people with knowledge of those discussions, and in the end, fruitful negotiations produced a decision that satisfied both parties.

As one outsider pointed out, Belichick and Kraft both “took the high road,” which was appropriate for the owner-coach combination that will go down as one of the best and most successful in NFL history.

With one year left on his deal, Belichick is free to leave the team without the Patriots pursuing payment. According to league insiders, he will want to continue coaching and is anticipated to pique the interest of at least a few of the other seven NFL teams that have head coaching openings, most notably the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots are about to start their first head-coaching search in 25 years. According to insiders, Jerod Mayo, the linebackers coach for the Patriots, who the organization extended in the offseason and who Kraft has recognized as a potential head coach, is expected to be one of, if not the top candidate, for the position. Mayo was a 2008–2014 Patriots player and has been Belichick’s assistant since 2019.

Less than twenty-four hours will likely pass before Belichick leaves New England, after his close friend Nick Saban’s retirement from Alabama.

The exits of two football legends—men regarded by many as the best college football coach and the best professional coach in history—have a certain symmetry and familiarity. While Saban guided Alabama to nine SEC titles and six national championships, Belichick assisted in leading the Patriots to nine Super Bowl berths and six Super Bowl victories.

Furthermore, decades before all three of them left their long-standing positions this week in a 24-hour period, Saban succeeded Pete Carroll as the Ohio State secondary coach in 1980; Belichick collaborated with Saban from 1991 to 1994 as head coach in Cleveland; and Belichick succeeded Carroll as the Patriots head coach in 2000.

Belichick and Kraft’s decision to part ways is not surprising, but it does bring with it a certain sadness. Kraft has highlighted how crucial it was that the Patriots qualify for the postseason this year. Rather, on December 10, they were among the first teams eliminated.

The 2023 season saw a lot of speculation regarding Belichick’s future, with one of the team’s worst moments occurring on November 12 in a 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany.

Before that game, 82-year-old Kraft said to NFL Network about the previous season, saying, “It’s really been disappointing.” I knew our fan base did too, and I had hoped for much greater. We didn’t anticipate this happening this year.”

The team’s trajectory following quarterback Tom Brady’s free agency departure following the 2019 season was another important consideration for Kraft. The Patriots have lost three of their last four seasons after losing Brady, which hurt Kraft. Their most recent postseason victory came on February 3, 2019, in Super Bowl LIII, a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, when Brady was still a member of the team.

With 333 career wins (including playoffs), Belichick, 71, departs New England in second place all-time behind Don Shula’s 347. Since the NFL’s postseason play began in 1933, just three coaches have won six championships: Belichick, George Halas, and Curly Lambeau.

Belichick coached one team for 24 years, which was the fifth-longest tenure of any head coach. In 2023, he finished his 49th NFL season in a row, which is the longest continuous seasons as a coach in league history.

He is now hoping to play for a different NFL team during season number fifty.

These marks, which are anticipated to remain in place for the foreseeable future, are also included on Belichick’s resume:

  • With 17, Shula leads all head coaches in NFL history in division titles won; Andy Reid, Tom Landry, and Andy Reid are tied for second place with 13.
  • Nine conference championships, the most by a head coach in the Super Bowl era.
  • Twelve Super Bowl occurrences (counting his assistantship).
  • With 21 victories in his managerial career, he is only surpassed by Halas (40), Shula (33), Lambeau (33) and Landry (29).
  • One of the NFL’s four perfect and untied regular seasons (2007). Under the 16-game schedule that was played between 1978 and 2020, it was the only one.

Thursday at 12:00 ET, the Patriots and Belichick will hold a news conference that will signal the end of an incredible chapter in football and Patriots history.

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