Besides the continuous conversations and rumors surrounding Mac Jones and his potential future with the Patriots, the other main topic coming out of New England has been the likelihood of Bill Belichick being let go of his duties at the end of the season.
Because the team finds itself in unfamiliar territory, as they head into Week 12 with a 2-8 record, there is a lot of uncertainty about the future of the franchise. Many believe Jones has proven himself not to be the answer at quarterback, and because of the unsuccessful seasons since Tom Brady left, Belichick has shown he's not the right guy for the job anymore.
That's prompted a lot of speculation about who should replace the longtime head coach if Robert Kraft indeed chose to move on.
Many names have been floated in recent weeks, but it has been rumored that Kraft has his eyes set on Mike Vrabel, the former Patriot and current Titans head coach recently inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. The ex-linebacker was said to be Kraft's frontrunner, particularly in trade. But that fantasy came to a crashing halt on Thursday with a new report from an NFL insider.
Dianna Russini shut down the idea of a New England and Vrabel reunion in a piece for The Athletic, putting it simply but straight to the point, "It's not happening."
"Frustrated New England Patriots fans can stop hoping owner Robert Kraft will trade with Tennessee and replace head coach Bill Belichick with his former player Mike Vrabel.
It’s not happening."
Since it is still the middle of the season, it's not surprising to hear a team adamantly deny any rumblings about a possible head coach replacement. It also goes along with the current impression in Tennessee of Vrabel's tenure there, as rumors about his job security have not been a debate really at all since he joined the team in 2018.
That may change this season, though, with the Titans currently holding the second-worst record in the AFC, only behind the Patriots, ironically. Because of that, they're set to miss the playoffs again, which becomes even more problematic due to the team only winning one postseason game during Vrabel's tenure.
Tennessee is a team in a similar situation as the Patriots, dealing with questions at quarterback but set to have a ton of cap space in 2024 and in contention to have a top-5 draft pick. It's not a bad scenario for Vrabel to have going into the offseason, especially if he ended up back in New England via trade.
But Russini further ended the rumors altogether, citing multiple sources connected to the Titans who feel Vrabel is part of the team's long-term plans.
"Based on multiple conversations with high-ranking Titans officials, the franchise strongly and collectively believes it has the right coach for long-term success. … While the Titans are still trying to figure out if rookie quarterback Will Levis is their quarterback of the future, the clearest vision this team has is who will be their leader for years to come."
Although this feels like a pretty cut-and-dry response to all the chatter, this is still the NFL.
This could easily be the Titans' way of manipulating the conversation with the hope of publicly backing their head coach and stressing his importance to increase the price if a trade is explored.
That could be enough to have Kraft back off, but if he becomes dead-set on replacing Belichick, specifically with Vrabel, it will likely take a lot more than an alleged conversation with Titan officials to make him give up the pursuit.
At the same time, it could, in fact, be true because there haven't been any rumblings suggesting Tennessee is unhappy with the job that Vrabel has done. Despite his mediocre 51-41 record through six years, Titans' brass seems content with the head coach.
No matter what the truth is, it won't be clear until a move is or is not made. It'll be another storyline for Patriots fans to monitor this offseason as if there weren't enough already.