Robert Kraft's decision to move on from the most successful coach the NFL had ever seen after a 24-year tenure in New England immediately came under fire. Although many believed Bill Belichick wasn't the same coach he once was, the team was in the midst of a rebuild that he had been a part of the whole way.
So, it felt like a situation he deserved to see through, at least through the end of his contract.
As more details emerged about the apparent tension between Belichick and Kraft, a split seemed more inevitable than anticipated. And apparently, that didn't end with the elder Kraft; it also extended to his son Jonathan, who is said to have clashed with Belichick on numerous occasions.
Knowing all of that now and coupling it with all of the reports over the last three years, it wasn't too shocking to hear the legendary head coach would be looking for a job elsewhere, even if some would argue it was a mistake for Kraft to let him walk.
But a new report has surfaced detailing how the split may not have happened if the two could agree on one significant factor. According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, Kraft may have considered retaining Belichick at least through his contract if he agreed to forfeit some of his power over the roster and personnel.
“League sources believed Kraft might have been swayed to keep Belichick for another season if the coach committed to changing certain strategies with the personnel department, roster construction and his offensive vision, but Belichick had been accustomed to a specific approach and wouldn’t bend that far."
The premise that Belichick was open to allowing more voices to dictate how the team was run was discussed leading up to his inevitable departure. Many speculated on his willingness to do so after unofficially holding the title of general manager for two decades, and it was eventually asked of him after the Patriots' last game of the season.
Belichick revealed he would be open to it if it were in the team's best interest, which was quite a revelation for most. Because of that, Kraft was asked if he had considered that before concluding it was best for Belichick to leave, to which he shared he didn't think it was something that would work given how long he had been performing GM duties.
It certainly makes sense, and it would likely be challenging for Belichick to drop a significant part of his daily routine for most of his Patriots career 24 years into it. But it does make you wonder if it's something he was honestly willing to do, given that he shared with the press he was, and if he stuck to his word if Kraft would have kept him around for one more season.
Unfortunately, we'll probably never know.