Before the Patriots' final game of the 2023 season, it was reported that Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft were set to have their end-of-the-year meeting sometime on Monday. Some believed that meant something big was coming, given the context of what is currently going on, but it is an annual conversation the two have no matter how the season went.
Even with that in mind, there is an aura that significant changes could be decided due to their meeting, the most likely of which would be determining Belichick's future with the organization.
There have been conflicting reports regarding how that conversation will be approached, with some suggesting Kraft has already decided it's time to move in a different direction as head coach. In contrast, others believe only minor changes will be made, as Belichick deserves to finish his career in New England.
One of the most interesting parts about it all is that those are not the only possible outcomes. There are a few others that we could find out about as soon as Monday afternoon. Or it could take weeks. But there are several ways the situation can be handled; it just all hinges on how the meeting goes.
1. Bill Belichick and the Patriots mutually part ways
Most insiders have determined the likeliest of all outcomes to be Belichick and Kraft mutually decide it's time to reminisce on the good times and amicably part ways for the 2024 season.
It's deemed the most respectful decision and what's best for both parties, as Belichick would be in charge of his destiny, and Kraft will be able to start over with a clean slate in a head coach and general manager search.
2. Robert Kraft decides to trade Belichick to another team
If a simple breakup is not in consideration, Kraft could decide to speak with teams around the league with head coach vacancies (Chargers, Falcons, Panthers, Raiders, with more expected) to trade Belichick and get something in return.
It has been rumored that some teams have expressed interest in hiring him or at least having a conversation with the 8-time Super Bowl Champion coach, which could be enticing to Kraft, especially since a trade is how he acquired Belichick 23 years ago.
3. Bill Belichick is fired outright
Given the relevancy and success he's brought to the franchise since becoming the head coach in 2000, it's hard to imagine Kraft deciding to fire Belichick as if he's just any old head coach.
Because of the respect the two share for one another and how big a part Belichick played in the two-decade dynasty, the only way an outright firing happens is probably in an alternate universe.
4. Bill Belichick returns to the Patriots in a moderated role
A hypothesized compromise that has become more popular online in recent weeks is the proposal of Belichick remaining as the Patriots head coach in 2024, but forfeiting his role as the team's general manager. It allows him to stay with the team he's dedicated most of his career to but also will enable Kraft to bring in a fresh face to take over the roster-building duties.
Most who have expressed issues with Belichick over the years don't necessarily have problems with how he coaches. Their most significant issue is how poorly he has drafted and handled free agency.
This could be the best way to accommodate everyone, especially if Kraft isn't all too thrilled with who would be available to potentially succeed Belichick.
5. Bill Belichick chooses to retire after 49 seasons in the NFL
And then, of course, there's the chance that Belichick decides it's time to hang it up over anything else. Although by all accounts, he hasn't given any indication he's ready to retire, if he isn't interested in coaching elsewhere nor wants to give up his role as the team's general manager, it may be the only option he has left.
His legacy would forever be intact, as it should, and there would be no debate over who was right or wrong in the decision, kind of like how we still argue over who's at fault for Brady leaving four years ago.
No matter what is ultimately decided, it doesn't seem like a decision that will be or should be rushed. And the good thing is that it doesn't feel like it will be.
There's a long history between Belichick and Kraft, and they have only spoken highly of each other, so it feels like they'll try to approach this difficult conversation in the most respectful way possible. And hopefully, that's exactly how it goes because we definitely don't need any more drama surrounding the team.
We've had enough of that over the last 20+ years.