In a time where speculation is rife about the potential end of the 24-year partnership between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick, recent reports suggest that the decision might have already been made.
According to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston, as reported by Hayden Bird of Boston.com on Monday, Kraft may have made the call for a change post-New England’s Week 10 defeat to the Colts in Frankfurt.
“Conversations I had that week made it very clear that a decision was made,” Curran stated. “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 further mentioned that this separation might involve a de facto trade of Belichick to a new team, which could explain the decision not to terminate Belichick’s contract mid-season.
Following the 10-6 loss to the Colts, the Patriots faced subsequent defeats against the Giants and the Chargers before staging an upset against the Steelers last Thursday night.
“Just because they won last week in Pittsburgh in primetime, I don’t think it quells anything,” noted Curran.
While a single victory may not be a game-changer, the dynamics could potentially shift with a series of wins. Any decision is fluid until it is put into action. The Patriots winning their remaining four games (against the Chiefs, at Broncos, at Bills, Jets) might, in theory, lead to a reconsideration. Even a 3-1 record in the final stretch could influence Kraft, who recently emphasized the importance of long-term relationships in his various business ventures during an appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay.
However, the Week 10 loss in Germany appears to be a significant turning point, considering Kraft’s emphasis on its importance.
“This is our thirtieth year that I’ve had the privilege of owning this team, and I’ve never been 2-7,” Kraft expressed 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.”
With the Patriots currently at 3-10, even finishing the season at 7-10 would be deemed a failure. However, concluding with a five-game winning streak could potentially alter the overall perception heading into the offseason.
Another crucial factor is Belichick’s desires. Does he wish to stay, or is he seeking a fresh start elsewhere?
Once again, nothing is set in stone until it’s finalized. Regardless of the current speculation, decisions can still evolve as the 2023 season draws to a close. Presently, it appears that persuading Belichick to stay would require a substantial shift in circumstances, particularly if he believes it’s time for a change after nearly 25 years in the same role.