Bill Belichick

Could Mike Vrabel land with Patriots if Bill Belichick is out as head coach?

NBC Sports' Mike Florio and Chris Simms shared their thoughts on Thursday's edition of "PFT Live"

NBC Universal, Inc.

With the final game of the Patriots' disappointing season on tap, all eyes are on Bill Belichick.

The longtime head coach has been with New England since 2000 and there's now a legitimate debate about his future with the franchise.

Could Belichick return with less power on roster construction? Would Robert Kraft actually fire the coach who helped deliver six Super Bowl wins? And if the Patriots parted ways with Belichick, who could his replacement be?

There are plenty of names who could be the answer to that last question -- some on the current staff or others who used to work under Belichick. But one name keeps popping up: Mike Vrabel.

While the former Patriots linebacker never actually coached under Belichick, the current Titans head coach has deep ties to the organization. Vrabel was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame on Oct. 22 during a halftime ceremony, which Kraft scheduled during Tennessee's bye week.

With the 5-11 Titans suffering a similarly underwhelming season, questions have begun to arise about Vrabel's future in Nashville. He reaffirmed his commitment to the team in a press conference this week.

"I know where we're at as an organization," Vrabel said. "I'm excited to build this thing and fix this thing and get it to where we want it to be -- to win championships. ... That's what our goal is. But no, the social media and where that is, I can't focus on that.

"Of course I want to be here. I want to be here as long as we can win and as long as we can do this thing. It's been great, but it's also been just frustrating this year and no one wants to be where we're at."

On Thursday's edition of "PFT Live," NBC Sports' Mike Florio and Chris Simms discussed the potential for New England to poach Vrabel from Tennessee in the event that Kraft moves on from Belichick.

"Look, it's not a simple situation," Florio said. "But I don't think it was an accident that this year is the year that the Patriots put him in the Hall of Fame.

"There's been chatter that I've heard, not from social media, people with deep ties to the NFL, years and years of connections of the way things work. I got the email on July 4, that if things go sideways with the Patriots this year and Bill Belichick, don't be surprised if Mike Vrabel is the guy they really want. And that's been out there. That's not just social media spewing ideas. There's a belief out there that that's the direction that Robert Kraft could go."

Simms argued that Vrabel returning to the Patriots would make sense, given his track record as a head coach and his knowledge of the organization.

"He would fit the New England way," Simms said. "Of course he was a great player there, we know that. He's a damn good football coach. Let's not forget, it was just two years ago that (the Titans) were the No. 1 seed in the AFC in a year where I don't think we looked at them as a No. 1 team. They've done really well there."

Vrabel, like Belichick, is still under contract for next season in his current role.

To close out the 2023 season, Belichick and the Patriots will host the Jets on Sunday afternoon. Vrabel's Titans, meanwhile, will welcome the Jaguars to town.

Contact Us