Tucked in the transcript of Bill Belichick’s introductory press conference was a tiny exchange the likes of which we haven’t seen since that day in 2000.
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He hasn’t publicly uttered a word about his contract since. The only times we’ve gotten any news at all about his contract status was in 2007 when, in the days following Spygate, it was reported Belichick signed an extension through 2013. In 2013, it was reported Belichick had an extension that would keep him in place “a long time,” according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
So when does Belichick’s current contract run out? Don’t know. And I was told by a source that, at this point, it doesn’t really matter.
Belichick turns 65 in April. The Patriots aren’t going to fire him and he isn’t going to resign to seek another head-coaching opportunity. He’s going to coach until he doesn’t want to coach anymore and then head to Nantucket/Jupiter, Florida.
When will that be?
A win over the Falcons could provide Belichick with a stunning walk-into-the-sunset moment, as he’d be alone at the top with five Lombardi Trophies earned (surpassing Chuck Noll whose Steelers won four for him). But there’s nothing to indicate Belichick’s near done.
My best guess? He’ll wrap it up after the 2019 season, when he’ll be 68 and will have just completed 20 years in New England.
By that time, his oldest son Stephen, who just finished his first season as the team’s safeties coach, will be well-established with the team.
His youngest son, Brian, was a scouting assistant this year. If Brian’s aiming for personnel, he’ll be well on that road.
Belichick described the chance to work with both his sons on staff as “special” when he was asked about it last week. The chance to work with his sons is the kind of thing that could make a guy ignore the fact that everyone else his age is either retired or about to.
Aside from that, Belichick doesn’t give any indication that he’s weary of coaching. The bureaucratic BS the NFL engages in? He’s weary of that. The change-it-on-a-whim mindset of the NFL’s Competition Committee also gets on Belichick’s last nerve. But he still loves the process and the competition. And he’s got such an abiding reverence for the history of the game, he may just feel compelled to stick around to make sure his voice is there to speak up when the league tries to bastardize the product in the chase for that $25 billion revenue mark.
Interestingly, when the NFL cobbled together a list of potential head coaching candidates back in November, they left Josh McDaniels name off it because they presumed he was waiting for Belichick to retire.
In fact, there is no succession plan in place and, given the right team at the right time, McDaniels would leave the Patriots.
In other words, wishful thinking at the league level that Belichick would be leaving sooner rather than later may have intruded. Bad news for them.