Curran: Recent comments suggest Kraft-Belichick relationship is icy


Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick both addressed some hot-button New England Patriots issues at the NFL owners meetings this week. Their stories didn't exactly line up.

Belichick was characteristically tight-lipped, again declining to offer any public support of supposed franchise quarterback Mac Jones while not even entertaining questions about Lamar Jackson. When asked why Patriots fans should be optimistic about 2023 after a disappointing 2022, he pointed to the scoreboard.

Meanwhile, Kraft gave Jones a healthy dose of praise -- "I'm a big fan of Mac" -- and ignited Jackson-to-New England rumors by relaying that rapper Meek Mill texted him saying Jackson wanted to come to Foxboro. When asked about the team's goals this season, he noted it's "very important" to him that New England makes the playoffs.

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Does the disconnect between Belichick and Kraft's public comments hint at a head coach and team owner who are at odds? While Kraft reiterated his support for Belichick in Arizona this week, Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran used a notable adjective when asked for his take on the state of their relationship.

"Icy. Wary," Curran told co-hosts Michael Felger and Michael Holley Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Boston Sports Tonight. "And it's interesting, because I watched them last week at the Devin McCourty retirement ceremony sitting next to each other, and there was an embrace at the beginning. But when they put a microphone in front of them, they are putting their agendas out there in very specific ways.

"The non-committal verbiage (from Belichick) around Mac when you know that Robert is laying at your feet blame for Mac failing last year is probably the biggest wishbone in all of this. So, I think they're wary of each other, and they're kind of peeing on their territory."

Curran also found it notable that Kraft felt the need to clear the air about the Patriots' frugality, or lack thereof. When asked Monday about Belichick pointing out in January that the Patriots were "27th in cash spending" over the past three years, Kraft retorted that cash spending "will never be the issue" as long as he owns the team.

"That's another good example of it," Curran added. "Calling people back to say, 'Hey, just to go on the record, Bill has never wanted for money from me.' He's listening to the radio, he's listening to (98.5 The Sports Hub's Felger & Mazz) from 2 to 6 and WEEI from 2 to 6, and he's saying, 'I don't want to hear any more about lighthouses that are being built with the money we're saving by not chasing people,' and making that point."

New England is 25-25 with one playoff loss since Tom Brady's departure in March 2020, so it's understandable why Kraft's patience might be wearing thin. And considering Belichick's track record -- six Super Bowl titles, nine AFC championships and 17 division titles over 23 seasons -- it's understandable why he may want a little more leniency to do his job how he sees fit.

Winning cures everything in the NFL, so if Belichick delivers Kraft a postseason berth in 2023, that should go a long way in dissolving any tensions.

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