Is This it For Belichick and the Patriots?

Is This it For Belichick and the Patriots?
Photo by CNN

When Robert Kraft traded a first-round pick for Bill Belichick in 2000, and Belichick drafted Tom Brady in the sixth round, all 3 of them could not have imagined the football empire that would be built in New England over the next 20 years. That empire, however, has all but fallen.

71 year-old Bill Belichick has had the most successful coaching tenure in NFL history with the New England Patriots. From 2000 to 2023, Belichick has been at the helm for 6 Super Bowl wins, the most of any NFL head coach all time. While the success is obviously attributed to the greatest QB of all time Tom Brady, the duo of Belichick and Brady are what made the 2000's and 2010's Patriots so special. The recent years since Brady's departure, however, have been torrid for Belichick and the Patriots.

Drafting top QB prospect in Mac Jones gave the franchise hopes of keeping their success rolling once Brady left, but Jones has turned out to be a dud. With only 1 winning-record season since 2019, the football world can feel the end of the Belichick era approaching. The Monday after the final NFL Sunday games is deemed "Black Monday", on which many coaches of NFL teams with subpar records are fired, and speculation on whether Belichick was on the chopping block this year is high. Monday came and went, but the future remains to be seen. Belichick as admitted that things need to change, and it is too early to begin making decisions for next year. When interviewed on Monday, he said “I’m under contract, I’m going to do what I always do, which is: every day I come in, work as hard as I can to help the team in whatever way I can. That’s what I’m going to continue to do". The specifics of that contract are $25 million a year through 2024 via a recent extension. NFL contracts are not guaranteed.

Belichick developed a reputation of being ruthless with his players and managers, and while his leadership style was often controversial, it was successful. With 9 conference championships and 302 regular-season wins, Belichick will undoubtedly go down as the best to ever do it. The early days in which his defense was impenetrable into the Brady days, throwing touchdowns to Randy Moss and eventually Rob Gronkowski, Belichick was an unwelcome face in any city with an NFL team (not named Foxborough).

Robert Kraft, the Patriots owner, now has to decide whether to be ruthless with Belichick. The team tied with the most Super Bowl wins of all time (all coming under Belichick), and worth the 4th most in the league at $6,7 Billion, faces a tough equation this offseason.