Back in the heyday of the New England Patriots dynasty, Bill Belichick had complete control of the organization, and the players rarely stepped out of line in fear of being replaced. In 2023, some Patriots players have gone against Belichick, and players on the team seem more outspoken than ever.
With the rise in direct players, it's fair to question how much control Belichick has lost.
The offseason started with the holdout of Lawrence Guy, who is looking for a contract extension and pay raise. Guy has reported to training camp but is still unhappy with his deal.
The decision to hold out is unexpected, given how Belichick used to be with players. Belichick keeping Guy on the team is surprising, and it may show that he has changed his ways a little bit.
Matthew Judon is another example of the players changing with Belichick in 2023, as he also wants a new contract. Judon has been outspoken about wanting to be a Patriot for life, and he has applied pressure on Belichick to get a deal done.
This sort of back and forth between Judon and Belichick is rare when you look at the history of how Belichick treats outspoken players. The desire for players to speak out shows that either Belichick has lost a step or is allowing this.
After Wednesday's practice, Rhamondre Stevenson had an interesting comment about why he didn’t practice. When asked why he didn't practice with the rest of the offense, Stevenson told reporters to ask Belichick why.
In other years, people would question if Stevenson was heading for the doghouse, but now it seems he will get away with comments.
Ultimately, it will be interesting to see how the relationship between Belichick and the players improves or declines by the end of the season.