Curran: When will Belichick hang up his whistle? Not anytime soon, it appears

Curran: When will Belichick hang up his whistle? Not anytime soon, it appears

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.


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.

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."