At a time when many believe the 24-year relationship between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick will soon be ending, a new report indicates that the decision already has been made.
Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston, via Hayden Bird of Boston.com, said Monday that Kraft already made the decision to make a change after New England’s Week 10 loss to the Colts in Frankfurt.
“When they came out of Germany, conversations I had that week made it very clear that a decision was made,” Curran said. “They were going to play out the string, and at the end of the year, there would be a parting of the ways for a variety of reasons.”
Curran added that the parting of the ways could include a de facto trade of Belichick to a new team. That would explain the decision not to fire Belichick during the season.
Since the 10-6 loss to the Colts, the Patriots lost to the Giants and the Chargers before upsetting the Steelers last Thursday night.
“Just because they won last week in Pittsburgh in primetime, I don’t think it quells anything,” Curran said.
That one win might not change things, but more wins could — in theory. Any decision is subject to change before implementation. If the Patriots win their final four games (Chiefs, at Broncos, at Bills, Jets), that could potentially spark a reversal. Even a 3-1 record down the stretch might prompt Kraft to continue a relationship that he recently cited, unprompted, when explaining on ESPN’s College GameDay the importance of employment longevity within his various business concerns.
Still, the loss in Germany becomes a sensible tipping point, given the significance Kraft attached to that game.
“This is our thirtieth year that I’ve had the privilege of owning this team, and I’ve never been 2-7,” Kraft told Rich Eisen before the Colts game. “So it’s really disappointing and I hoped that things would be a lot better, as I know our fan base did. And I hope today is a chance to reset and make this a much better year. This isn’t what we were expecting to happen this year.”
The Patriots are currently 3-10. While 7-10 would still make the season a failure, ending on a five-game winning streak could change the vibe heading into the offseason.
Another important consideration becomes Belichick’s wishes. Does he want to stick around, or is he looking for a fresh start?
Again, nothing is done until it’s done. Whatever the decision might be, it can still be altered when the dust settles on the 2023 drsdon. At this point, it seems as if it would take a lot to keep Belichick in place — especially if he’s thinking that it’s time to make a change after nearly a quarter of a century in the same job.