Not shockingly, and after much speculation, the New England Patriots and head coach/general manager Bill Belichick are parting ways. Belichick had been coaching the Patriots since 2000 and has won, of course, six Super Bowl titles. He is arguably the best coach in the history of the NFL. But the Patriots are getting exactly the same compensation back from Belichick leaving as when Tom Brady left after 2019: Nothing.
Somehow, the Patriots seemed to have mishandled the ends of the New England careers of the two most influential figures in Patriots' football history. Brady left as a free agent and then went on to win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New England had other options with Brady. The relationship between Brady and the team, specifically Belichick, could have been taken for granted less, and maybe Brady would have stayed.
With Belichick, the team could have potentially traded Belichick's rights to another team and gotten a draft pick (or multiple picks back). There are several head coach-needy teams. I would imagine a team such as the Atlanta Falcons would have been happy to have given the Patriots a first-round choice for Bill Belichick.
Patriots blew both endings of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady's careers in New England
Belichick, if he wants to continue coaching, and we might not know that straight away, could easily end up in Atlanta. Or possibly with the Los Angeles Chargers. Or nearly anywhere that has a coaching vacancy. Belichick hasn't stopped being a great coach; he just no longer has a great quarterback.
On Monday's press conference this week, Belichick forced owner Robert Kraft's hand, though. When asked about his future with the Patriots, Belichick mentioned that he was still under contract for 2024. This meant Kraft would have to play the bad guy, as it would appear he was the one who wanted Belichick gone if the coach left. And now Belichick is leaving.
Kraft likes to have a glossy image and doesn't like looking like that bad guy. He likely was in no position to trade Belichick or fire him outright after Belichick mentioned he was under contract. That made Belichick look like he wanted to stay as coach, and his leaving would not be his own decision. Kraft trading Belichick would have made it evident that Kraft wanted Belichick gone, and if whoever was and is brought in to replace Belichick failed, Kraft would look even worse.
Kraft and Belichick will likely play nice until either a new coach is hired or Belichick is hired elsewhere. Neither person wants to be viewed negatively. But Kraft should have forgotten about his image and gotten something back in return for Belichick. That was Kraft's failure.