For the first time in over two decades, Bill Belichick's future is uncertain.
The New England Patriots head coach, who led the team to six Super Bowls, is under fire amid a 2-10 start to 2023. The Patriots are 2-7 in one-score games and, on Sunday, became the first team since 1938 to allow 10 points or fewer in three straight games and lose all three.
Would Patriots owner Robert Kraft actually fire Belichick in the middle of the regular season? Mike Giardi, appearing on NBC Sports Boston's "Arbella Early Edition," argued Tuesday for a change to be made.
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On Wednesday, NBC Sports' Mike Florio and Chris Simms debated the same topic on "PFT Live." Both agreed, though, that Belichick has "earned the right" to finish out this season -- albeit for different reasons.
"I still think the Krafts are holding out hope that they'll be able to get value for Bill Belichick from whatever team ends up wanting to employ him and that he wants to be employed by," Florio said. "If they do get embarrassed tomorrow night and you have your mini-bye with a few games left, do you just give Jerod Mayo a chance to finish the year? I don't know -- it's almost unthinkable that it would happen."
There have been eight head coach trades in NFL history -- Don Shula from Indianapolis to Miami (1970), Bill Parcells from New England to the Jets (1997), Mike Holmgren from Green Bay to Seattle (1999), Belichick from the Jets to New England (2000), Jon Gruden from Oakland to Tampa Bay (2002), Herm Edwards from the Jets to Kansas City (2006), Bruce Arians from Arizona to Tampa Bay (2019) and Sean Payton from New Orleans to Denver (2023).
Belichick, as mentioned, came to the Patriots in a trade with the Jets for a first-round pick. Florio is expecting the Krafts to pursue a similar deal to ship him out of town after this season, but left open the possibility that Belichick could be fired if Thursday night's game goes poorly. Moving on from Belichick this week would give the interim coach, presumably Mayo, extra time to prepare for Week 15.
Simms, on the other hand, can't envision a scenario where Belichick is fired mid-season.
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"He's earned the right to let him finish it out," Simms said. "To fire him right now, it doesn't do Jerod Mayo any good. If you want [Mayo] to be the guy who takes over, he gets to take over this dumpster fire right now and not look good, too. Then if you make him the permanent head coach, everyone goes 'Well, you weren't much better with him at the end of the year.' I don't think that's a recipe for success if they want to do that.
"He is the greatest head coach of all-time. He is the reason that we think of the New England Patriots the way that we do. So, you let him finish it out."
The Patriots will head to Pittsburgh on Thursday to face the Steelers before finishing the season with games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. Whether Belichick is still leading the team for those games remains to be seen.