Josh McDaniels will have to decide where his loyalty lies this offseason

Josh McDaniels has to choose between Robert Kraft and the Patriots, and Bill Belichick.
Where does McDaniels' loyalty lie?
Where does McDaniels' loyalty lie? / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Like Kirk Cousins or Kyle Dugger, Josh McDaniels finds himself as a free agent after the end of this NFL season. As with many highly-touted free agents, he also sees no shortage of suitors for his services.

Despite crashing and burning as a head coach for the second time, the consensus around the league is that Josh McDaniels is not just a great offensive coordinator but possibly the best offensive mind in football today.

Teams may look to add him to their coaching staff for several reasons. They may have a veteran quarterback trying to win a Super Bowl, and all that's missing is creative play-calling to show something defenses haven't seen from him in a decorated career.

A team could be looking to draft a young quarterback and need a coordinator to ensure he is always in the best spot to succeed (like McDaniels did in 2021 with Mac Jones).

With so much at stake and so much to choose from, it appears that McDaniels' decision will come down to two entities. Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. Both would love to retain his services, and both have a reason why he should choose them. As REO Speedwagon sings about on the album High Infidelity, Josh has to ask himself, "Should I follow my head or my heart."

The case for Bill Belichick

Josh McDaniels joined the New England Patriots from Michigan State in 2001. Just in time to see the beginning of the dynasty. He progressed through the system under Bill Belichick, working on both sides of the ball before becoming the team's offensive coordinator in 2006.

In the three years calling the plays for New England, the Patriots always featured a top-10 scoring offense, including the number one overall offense in 2007, during their 16-0 regular season. After a disaster in Denver as a head coach and trying to regain his reputation in St. Louis, Belichick took McDaniels back in 2012, and because of that, the Patriots won Super Bowls in 2014, 2016, and 2018.

In fact, of the 9 Super Bowl appearances that coach Belichick has with the New England Patriots, Josh was calling the plays on six of those teams. Bill has always trusted in Josh, so much so that when Josh was calling the plays for the Patriots, it was practically his half of the team without question.

Now Bill is looking for a new team where he can break Don Shula's record, maybe win a Super Bowl or two, and ride off into the sunset. It could be assumed that if Josh ever wants another shot at coaching his own team, he will need to follow Bill, who will make sure that McDaniels is his succession plan.

The Case for Kraft

During the 2018 NFL off-season, McDaniels accepted the head coaching job for the Indianapolis Colts. The day before the press conference where he was set to be introduced, McDaniels reneged on his verbal commitment and returned to the Patriots.

The feeling at the time was that Kraft agreed to pay Josh like a head coach and not a coordinator and earmark him as Belichick's successor. Once Bill broke the record and hung up the hoodie, McDaniels would be given the keys to the Patriots' kingdom.

Instead of waiting for this to happen, however, McDaniels accepted a chance to be the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. He turned his back on New England and essentially stabbed Robert Kraft in his. He had 60 million reasons to do so, but one can't help but wonder if Josh feels he still owes something to the franchise and RKK in particular.

New reports say that if the Patriots part ways with Bill O'Brien (and why wouldn't they? His offensive play-calling was worse than Patricia's this year) McDaniels is the only name on the list to replace him as offensive coordinator. He will get a shot at redemption.

When all is said and done, we still don't know what sort of situation Belichick will land in, and the Patriots are planning to go through a draft without a general manager. With so much uncertainty surrounding both parties, Josh will eventually have to show where his true loyalty lies. Will it be with the owner he spurned or the coach who has given him every shot he's ever had?

We will have to wait and see. One thing that is absolutely certain, is wherever he ends up, that team will most likely have one of the top offenses in the league thanks not in large part, but entirely due to the fact that Josh will be calling their plays.

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