Things have gone from bad to worse in New England, with the Patriots currently sitting at the bottom of the AFC standings. This has naturally led to some chatter about Bill Belichick‘s job security and his future with the organization. Further, the Patriots’ record has led some NFL insiders to question if Belichick could be employed elsewhere next season.
According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, there’s “chatter in some league circles” that the Commanders could make a run at Belichick this upcoming offseason. While Florio cautions that this “isn’t a report that it will happen,” he said it’s a possibility that’s currently being thrown around the league.
While this might seem like a random pairing, Florio explains that the Belichick/Commanders connection is rooted in some logic. The Commanders signaled at the trade deadline that they’re looking to restart under new owner Josh Harris, and that could eventually lead to him cleaning house among coaches and executives. Who better to lead the next era of Washington football than one of the greatest coaches of all time?
For the Patriots, they’d be able to avoid a firing or “mutual parting,” with both of these routes likely resulting in them owing Belichick some money. Plus, assuming Belichick is still under contract for the 2024 campaign, the Commanders would be required to compensate the Patriots. For a team that’s lacking in future pieces and would be eyeing their own significant reset, extra draft assets would surely come in handy.
Of course, there are some complications surrounding this pursuit, and that’s why Florio notes that neither side would ever acknowledge the rumors. For starters, the Commanders couldn’t be hyper-focused on Belichick since they need to adhere to the Rooney Rule. This requires the organization to go through proper interviews for head coach and GM candidates.
The second sticking point is Belichick’s contract. We heard in late October that the head coach had recently signed an extension with the Patriots, and the terms of that contract could ultimately determine whether the legendary coach sticks around New England. As Albert Breer of SI.com notes, the reported “extension” may have actually been a simple reworking of the deal, and there’s a chance Belichick’s pact only lasts through the 2024 campaign. This wouldn’t be dissimilar to how the Patriots handled Tom Brady‘s exit; the team signed the quarterback to a reported extension, but the terms of the deal only increased the likelihood that Brady would end up leaving New England.
Breer believes we could be eyeing a similar scenario here. At the very least, the reporter believes Patriots owner Robert Kraft will have to make a difficult decision on Belichick this offseason. If the coach’s contract does truly last through the 2024 campaign, there’s little chance the organization will let Belichick head into next season with lame-duck status.
Florio also raised an eyebrow at the recent extension reports. The reporter says he assumed the report came from Belichick’s camp and was attended to cool rumors surrounding a potential firing. However, Florio is now wondering if the report was leaked by the Patriots, with the organization signaling that they’ll be the ones determining Belichick’s future destination.
It wasn’t very long ago that a Belichick firing would seem like a fantasy. The HC/GM built a pair of dynasty squads in his 23-plus years in New England, winning six Super Bowl rings while climbing up the all-time wins list for coaches. However, since Brady left, things haven’t been as rosy. The team went 7-9 during their first season without Brady, and they took a step forward with rookie Mac Jones in 2021, going 10-7 while returning to the playoffs.
However, the team has taken massive steps back in recent years. It didn’t seem like it could get much worse than last season’s 8-9 showing, but the Patriots have gotten off to a dreadful 2-6 start in 2023. Belichick has earned plenty of blame for the team’s current predicament, with the coach being called out for questionable coaching decisions, his handling of Jones and the quarterback position, and his subpar draft record in recent years.