Bill Belichick and the Patriots have parted ways, AP source says


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Bill Belichick had a dream of building the kind of consistent championship football team rarely seen before in the NFL when he was hired by the New England Patriots.

He walks away feeling like it was a job well done.

The six-time NFL champion has agreed to step aside as coach of the Patriots, ending his 24-year tenure as the architect of the league’s most decorated dynasty of the Super Bowl era.

“I think of the Patriots with a lot of fond memories and thoughts,” Belichick said Thursday in a media availability with owner Robert Kraft. “I will always be a patriot. I look forward to coming back here. But this time, we are going to move forward. And I am eager, excited for the future.

Neither Belichick nor Kraft took questions, although Kraft scheduled availability for later in the day.

Speaking to reporters from the podium, where he had given many brief, non-reactive postgame recaps, Belichick appeared in a jacket and tie and spoke first, followed by Kraft. The coach even smiled a few times – in which he acknowledged the media’s respect, “even if we don’t always see eye to eye.”

He also thanked the fans for “the awesomeness, the parades, the Sundays.” But most of his time was spent thanking people throughout the organization, especially the more than 1,000 Patriots players he coached during his time there.

“Players win games in the NFL,” Belichick said. “I have been very fortunate to coach some of the greatest players to ever play the game.”

Craft called this relationship a marriage that required work and that had ended.

“I’m very proud that our partnership has lasted 24 years,” Craft said. “Bill taught me a lot over those years, and I had high hopes for what we could achieve together. I think we were the only ones who had these expectations, and I think it’s safe to say that we exceeded them.”

“We did,” Belichick agreed.

“Thank you,” Craft said.

Belichick, 71, became the third coach in NFL history to reach 300 career regular season wins earlier this season, joining Hall of Famers Don Shula and George Halas. With 333 wins including playoffs, Belichick trails only Shula (347) in terms of wins record by a coach.

But the Patriots finished the season 4–13, the worst record in Belichick’s 29 seasons as an NFL head coach. This replaced the 5–11 marks he achieved in 1995 in his final year in Cleveland and again in 2000 in his first year in New England. Including the playoffs, he finished his Patriots tenure with a 333–178 overall record.

Belichick is expected to resume his pursuit of Shula’s record elsewhere.

With his cutoff hoodies and ever-present face, Belichick teamed up with quarterback Tom Brady to lead the Patriots. Win six Super Bowls, Nine AFC titles and 17 division championships in 19 years. During a less successful – but tumultuous – tenure with the original Cleveland Browns, Belichick earned 37 career wins.

Reactions began pouring in on social media following Thursday’s announcement. This included a man from Brady, who replied with three heart emojis In a post on ESPN’s Instagram page, which included photos of Belichick and Kraft embracing during Thursday’s news conference.

It was not immediately clear who Kraft would select to replace the future Hall of Famer.

Patriots linebackers coach Jerrod Mayo won a Super Bowl ring while playing under Belichick and has interviewed for multiple head coaching vacancies since becoming a New England assistant in 2019. Mayo turned down a few interviews last offseason before signing a contract extension to remain with the Patriots.

Mike Vrabel, who was fired by the Tennessee Titans earlier this week and who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, is also expected to be a candidate for the head coaching position.

Before McDaniels left after the 2021 season to become the Raiders’ coach, Belichick was grooming offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to replace him. He has since been fired by Las Vegas. Belichick’s two sons, Steve and Brian, are also on the coaching staff.

Just a day after Belichick’s exit from the Patriots came another coaching great and longtime friend Nick Saban announced that he would retire After winning seven college national championships. Saban had worked for Belichick’s father Steve as a coach at Navy in the 1980s, and Bill Belichick hired Saban as his defensive coordinator when he became Cleveland’s head coach in 1991.

six super bowl wins Connect Belichick with pre-merger bosses Halas and Curly Lambeau for most NFL championships. Belichick also won two rings with the New York Giants as defensive coordinator for Bill Parcells.

But the Patriots have fallen to a 29-38 record since Brady left after the 2019 season and have missed the playoffs in three of those four seasons. Since Brady became the starting quarterback in 2001, the Patriots have missed the playoffs only once – when Brady was injured in 2008. It was a symbol of New England fifth consecutive season Without a playoff win.

Belichick’s subsequent solutions at quarterback were not successful.

Brady’s initial replacement, Cam Newton, did not resemble the player who won the 2015 MVP award and was fired after a 7-9 finish in 2020. Meanwhile, Brady won his seventh Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the same season.

Potential long-term replacement Mac Jones, a 2021 first-round draft choice, was a Pro Bowl selection as a rookie and led New England to the playoffs. But he lagged in Year 2 when Belichick put longtime defensive assistant Matt Patricia in charge of the offense. Jones did not fare much better this season when Bill O’Brien returned as offensive coordinator. He was benched four times before being replaced as a starter by backup Bailey Jappe for the final six games.

This left the Patriots looking for a long-term rebuild, as there was no candidate on the roster to bring stability to the game’s most important position.

Belichick, who also served as the de facto general manager making final decisions on personnel decisions, was celebrated for his ingenuity in managing the salary cap during their Super Bowl success. This included stars like Brady and others accepting cap-friendly contracts or adjusting their deals to accommodate the signing of other players.

But that praise has diminished in the years since Brady left, as draft picks and high-priced free agents failed to live up to expectations. Additionally, Belichick has seen several members of his personnel and scouting departments leave for other jobs. The list includes their former player personnel director, Nick Caserio, who was hired as Houston’s general manager in 2021.

No longer will Belichick make decisions for the Patriots on or off the field.

The only child of a World War II veteran who spent three decades as a Navy assistant coach, Belichick is a football historian with an encyclopedic knowledge of strategy ranging from the early days of the game to current NFL trends. His players said that his attention to detail never leaves them unprepared.

Belichick has been a master of the NFL rulebook, finding loopholes in clock operation and offensive line formations that – though perfectly legal – have cemented his reputation as a mad genius.

But his legacy in New England includes two major fraud investigations – and other smaller investigations – that cost him more draft picks and a fine of more than $1 million. Opponents accused the Patriots of everything from hacking his headset to ignoring injury reports.

His friendship with former President Donald Trump, which Belichick insisted was not political, landed the coach on the list to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the final days of the administration. Following the outrage over the siege of the US Capitol, Belichick announced that “the decision has been made not to proceed further.”




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