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Reviewing Curran’s Claim That Bill Belichick’s Fate Is Sealed

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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichck

Tom E. Curran, a New England Patriots analyst for NBC Sports Boston, claims the decision on the future of Bill Belichick with the team has already been decided. For Belichick loyalists looking forward to seeing him get the franchise back on track with a franchise quarterback in 2024 the news was not good. Curran reports the team has already decided to “part ways” with Belichick after the season.

A breakdown of what Curran said and what it means:

Parting of the Ways

“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.”

The phrase “a parting of the ways” is generous. Unless one of Tom E. Curran’s sources are from the Belichick camp, the longtime coach is getting fired in this scenario. Otherwise he’s voluntarily walking away from a job he’s held for 24 years with money on the table, which is tough to imagine. It’s not fun to say anybody is getting fired. It’s especially awkward to fire somebody that is the greatest NFL head coach of the Super Bowl Era. But ultimately that is what would happen.

There were reports (from MMQB’s Albert Breer) a few weeks back that Bill Belichick’s next destination was already worked out. Belichick called that report “ridiculous” but Belichick has also had some dishonest moments with the media this year. So “a parting of the ways” could exist, in theory, if Breer’s report was accurate. If Belichick knows he will be employed elsewhere next season, and Kraft is willing to make sure he is financially whole, maybe he’d be happy parting ways himself at this point.

Coaching Out the Season

“You don’t fire Bill Belichick during the season. It’s just not gonna happen.”

The Boston Globe‘s Ben Volin stated the Patriots could fire Belichick if they came home from Germany 2-8 (which they did). In Volin’s scenario, Jerod Mayo would become interim head coach. Obviously a firing didn’t happen after leaving Germany. More obviously, it’s not going to happen with four games left in the season.

Three months ago, Patriots Football Now addressed the idea of firing Bill Belichick during the season. The conclusion, contrary to what some hosts on 98.5 The Spots Hub had to say, was that Belichick wouldn’t and shouldn’t lose his job during the season. That has not changed.

Belichick’s Contract

“Additionally, though, he’s an asset,” Curran said. “He’s under contract for another year, which we reported after NFL media reported there was a long-term extension in place that would keep Bill locked up long-term. It’s only through next year, so that would not be an impediment to them changing course, and it had gone too far.”

There has been no public confirmation from the team or employee about what Belichick’s contract is. Curran states Belichick’s reported “lucrative long term deal” only runs through 2024. If true, financial issues are unlikely to stand in the way of kicking the coach to the curb. What is not clear is why Bill Belichick, a coach the team apparently wants to part ways with, is considered an asset.

Does this indicate the Patriots are hoping to trade Belichick? In order for that to happen, Belichick would need to agree to a new situation with a new team, and have compensation for him be agreed on. And what would be a reasonable return for a Patriots franchise with little to no leverage in that scenario?

No Hope to Salvage Job?

“The Germany game, the Commanders game, the Saints game: all huge marquee games. And then there was the Chargers game after that. Just because they won last week in Pittsburgh in prime time, I don’t think it quells anything.”

Perhaps Tom E. Curran has a different idea of what a marquee game is. The Germany game against Indianapolis could technically be considered a marquee game, simply because it had international attention. That game was not exactly an AFC Championship preview though. New England was 2-6 when they played a 3-5 Commanders team. And it’s tough to imagine anyone outside of Patriots and Saints fans/media were too excited about that ‘marquee’ matchup.

Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football was arguably the most marquee game of them all. It was later in the season, Pittsburgh is in the playoff hunt, and it was the only NFL game on the schedule that day. New England performed impressively in victory, and safety Jabrill Peppers was among those saying they wanted to silence negative talk around their coach.

The Patriots have four games left in 2023. They play vs. Kansas City, at Denver, at Buffalo, and vs. the New York Jets. New England will be underdogs in at least three of these games. Do the outcomes of these games have no bearing on Bill Belichick’s future in New England?

Tom E. Curran Could be Correct

Whether or not Curran’s reporting is correct will be determined in the offseason. It is clear that the New England Patriots braintrust of Robert and Jonathan Kraft want to win. According to Curran, the decision has been made that Bill Belichick is not the best person to help them achieve success moving forward.

There will be a lot of turnover on the roster next season, no matter who is running things in Foxboro. The Patriots have five key free agents to make decisions on. They have money to spend in free agency. New England’s draft selection will be very high, and could possibly land their franchise quarterback for the future. Personnel decisions are going to be huge this offseason. Things could improve quickly if the right levers are pulled.

Based on some of the draft picks and signings over the past few years (and there have some hits as well) the Krafts need to determine if they trust Belichick with getting things back on track.

Risky Business

Kicking Bill Belichick to the curb is a risky move by the Kraft family, 3-10 record and all. It appears the players, specifically the defense, is still playing very hard for him. There are no indications he’s “lost the locker room” aside from Trent Brown’s recent remark. It is hard to imagine Belichick’s replacement is going to step in and be a better option to coach the team right out of the gates. Of course it’s possible, but why would that coach currently be available if they were an upgrade over the Bill Belichick?

Would Bill Belichick be willing to fork over some front office responsibilities and remain as head coach? Would the Kraft be agreeable to this? There is a plethora of former New England Patriots executives that could be brought back to help with decision making. Among those available: Jon Robinson, Mike Lombardi, Thomas Dimitroff, and Dave Ziegler. Maybe bring back Nick Caserio or Bob Quinn. Scott Pioli and Ernie Adams come out of retirement? There are options available.

Perhaps Tom E. Curran is correct. Perhaps the Krafts have made their decision and Bill Belichick’s time in New England will soon be coming to an end. But after 24 years of mostly excellence with the Patriots, some of us will need to see it to believe it.

Questions for Curran

There are a couple of questions for Curran which were not answered in his report, but seem incredibly important:

Was Bill Belichick made aware of this decision? If so, how did he react? Were any of his powers removed or limited as a result of ownership deciding he would not be back in 2024?

Would Malik Cunningham have been added to the 53-man roster, where the Baltimore Ravens would not have been able to pluck him away from New England, if the person in charge had an eye toward next season?

It seems like a tremendous disservice to Bill Belichick and his legacy with the New England Patriots if Tom E. Curran knew about his demise before Belichick did. It also seems like bad business to have a lame duck boss calling shots for a team’s future.

 

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