The New England Patriots sit at the bottom of the AFC standings entering their Week 14 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Thursday Night Football."
For much of the last two decades, December was the time of the season when the Patriots started to play their best football in preparation for what typically was a deep playoff run. But the playoffs aren't even remotely in the conversation right now.
The 2-10 Patriots own the second-worst record in the league and the No. 2 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. The season is lost, and speculation over Bill Belichick's future with the franchise has been a top storyline for months.
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Despite the difficulties of the season and uncertainty surrounding his future, Belichick is still operating as if he'll be back with the Patriots next season, per Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.
"A lot of the planning stuff -- he’ll meet with scouts about next year’s draft prospects, that stuff is still going on," Breer said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub show Zolak & Bertrand. "So he’ll start to discuss contracts for players for next year. That stuff is going on. So there’s a lot of this stuff that I think because so few people in that building have an idea of which way this is going after the year -- coaches, scouts, whoever it is -- almost no one knows where this is going at the end of the year.
"Everybody’s looking for signs like, is Bill disengaging? Is Bill pulling away? And, every indication I’ve gotten, is that he is doing the stuff that he’d normally be doing, including getting ready with pieces of business for 2024 like he normally would in any other season.”
It should be noted that, even if Belichick isn't going to return, it's still his job to fulfill his normal work responsibilities. He doesn't seem like the type of person to just disengage from the situation and stop doing the work. Far from it, actually.
And the Patriots have a ton of work to do even though the current season is not going well. There are a lot of important decisions the franchise will have to make over the next five to six months, and the amount of preparation required before those decisions are made is massive. The Patriots' roster has lots of weaknesses on both sides of the ball, and with around $100 million in salary cap space in the offseason, New England could be among the busiest teams.
Belichick is under contract through the 2024 campaign. So for him not to be coaching next season, he would have to be fired or traded. For someone who's always preaching "Do your job", it's not surprising that Belichick is continuing to do his.