Bill Belichick, the architect of six Super Bowl-winning teams with the New England Patriots, is ending his 24-year run as the team’s head coach, multiple outlets reported Thursday.
ESPN reported the two sides have agreed to mutually part ways after “productive talks resulted in a mutual decision that left both sides comfortable and at ease.”
Seven other NFL teams have openings for a head coach, and the 71-year-old Belichick is expected to draw interest from some of those franchises. Speculation is that the Atlanta Falcons, who fired head coach Arthur Smith on Sunday, will be at the head of the line to talk to Belichick.
While Belichick has one year remaining on his contract, ESPN reported that the Patriots will not attempt to trade him to another team and will allow him to pursue other head-coaching opportunities.
Belichick becomes the third coaching legend in two days to depart his role. Super Bowl-winning coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks split Wednesday after 14 seasons. Alabama head coach Nick Saban — a close friend of Belichick’s — also announced his retirement after 17 seasons and six national titles in Tuscaloosa and seven overall.
Belichick leaves New England with a 266-121 record in the regular season, plus a 30-12 mark in the postseason. His NFL head-coaching career began with the Cleveland Browns (1991-95), where he was 36-44 in the regular season and 1-1 in the postseason.
His 333 career wins are second only to Don Shula’s 347. Belichick, George Halas and Curly Lambeau are the only NFL coaches with six titles.
In Belichick’s 24 seasons, the Patriots won 17 AFC East titles, went to 13 AFC championship games and played in nine Super Bowls.
“This is the best coach that ever lived,” former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said Thursday on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
“Bill Belichick could get every drop of physical ability, mental ability, football-playing ability out of you somehow, some way … and if you were a player that wanted to win championships, that’s exactly what you wanted.”
Belichick turned around a middling franchise that never had won a title and created a dynasty.
In his first season with the Patriots, in 2000, the team was 5-11. The next season, after quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured, Belichick inserted second-year player Tom Brady into the lineup, and the duo won its first of six Super Bowls with a 20-17 victory over the then-St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Brady left the Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 in free agency, and the Patriots were 29-38 without him, including 4-13 this season.
Finding Belichick’s replacement will be the next step for Kraft. Among the early leading candidates is believed to be 37-year-old Jerod Mayo, who played linebacker for the Patriots from 2008-15 and has been on Belichick’s staff since 2019.
–Field Level Media
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