Could Bill Belichick’s head-coaching career with the Patriots end the same way it began – with the coach himself the centerpiece of a trade?
Recall that after resigning as the “HC of the NYJ” Belichick arrived in New England in exchange for the 16th pick in the 2000 draft, with the Jets and Patriots also swapping a couple late-round picks. It was, in the eyes of many, a horrendous deal made by Robert Kraft for a man seen as untouchably toxic at the time.
Of course it also was part of the foundation of the most unexpected 20-year modern football dynasty that no one could have seen coming.
Now, though, that dynasty is either dead or dying.
The Patriots are 2-5. Tom Brady is an MVP candidate playing in Tampa Bay for the once-lowly Bucs. New England has seemingly one of the worst rosters in football and a future that’s suspect, at best.
The idea that New England would consider trading Belichick away would have previously seemed blasphemous. But now, as it was posed on the Greg Hill Show this week on WEEI, now it doesn’t seem so preposterous.
Belichick himself has admitted that the team is dealing with a salary cap situation during a quasi-rebuild that’s left New England less invested in this season than past title pursuits, back when it “sold out” for Super Bowls. There’s talk of tanking for improved draft positioning and the chance to snare one of the handful of supposed franchise quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft Class, even if presumed No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence might not be realistic.
Oh, and at the age of 68, Belichick is obviously nearing the end of his Hall of Fame coaching career.
So as New England assesses all its options to try to rebuild/retool/reboot the franchise as swiftly as possible, are all options actually on the table? If they are, then a Belichick trade has to at least be a talking point.
Remember, much like all the great players that Belichick traded away as their once-great careers headed down the home stretch – Richard Seymour and Logan Mankins immediately come to mind – the coach is himself an employee in a cut-throat, bottom-line business.
This isn’t necessarily Belichick’s rebuild as much as it is the Kraft Family’s rebuild. And if we’re being brutally honest, Belichick might just be the best asset at Robert and Jonathan Kraft’s disposal to try to take the biggest, swiftest step into the next generation of Patriots football.
Trade Belichick? It’s not as crazy as it might initially sound.
“I don’t think it’s a dumb idea,” said Football Morning In America’s Peter King, whose decades-long career writing about the NFL includes time in the 1980s covering Belichick as the defensive coordinator for Bill Parcells’ Giants teams.
The devil, though, is in the details. What could you get for Belichick as he approaches his 70th birthday, a time when most coaches have long retired? What teams would actually be interested? Would Belichick even agree to a trade, even if it were to a Giants franchise that played such a special, impactful role in his development as a budding coach?
“But I also don’t think that you’re probably going to get the value that you want, that you would think you would get,” King continued. “Like, probably right now, you would think if you traded Bill Belichick you should get two 1s, you think that’s about right? Especially not really knowing how much longer Bill is going to coach, he’s getting up there in years and you don’t really know how much longer he’s going to coach, so are you going to trade two 1s for a guy who might only coach for four years? I think it’s an interesting thing. I don’t think it’s something you should dismiss out of hand.
“But the other question is, clearly, would Bill want that? I have absolutely no idea if he would want that or not. If you traded him to be the HC of the NYJ would Bill have any desire to do that at all? And, if you did that you’re trading the first pick in the draft and next year’s 1 for Bill Belichick? Maybe if you say we’ll trade you the Jamal Adams’ pick at the end of the round and something else, that would be interesting. I also think, and again I do not know this at all, but just my gut feeling, there’s a big difference for Belichick between the New York Giants and the New York Jets.”
Trade Belichick? On the surface it seems insane. But once you get over the immediate, dismissive reaction that it’s simply silly talk-radio fodder, the lowly reality of the current Patriots situation lures you into a second, more serious consideration.
Trading Belichick would actually be the most Belichickian thing for the Patriots to do right now. Move on from a guy with value a year too early rather than a year too late. Benefit from an asset’s value built on past performances rather than pay him moving forward despite questionable diminishing returns.
Trade Belichick? Don’t dismiss it out of hand.
If Belichick can move on from Brady, then the Patriots can move on from Belichick. If trading Belichick is indeed deemed by the Kraft Family as being in the best interests on their football team, then it should be a consideration at this point.
It is what it is.
Bill, you more than anyone else should understand and appreciate that.
It’s not personal, it’s just good football business.