It's time to start thinking about the future, New England Patriots fans.
The Patriots enter Sunday's game in Germany against the Indianapolis Colts with an AFC-worst 2-7 record. Barring a miraculous turnaround, they'll miss the playoffs for the third time in four years, and based on reporting from our Tom E. Curran, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio and others, another failed season could mean the team parts ways with head coach Bill Belichick this offseason.
If that scenario does play out, who would replace Belichick as head coach -- and who would assume his responsibilities as de facto general manager?
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ESPN's Mike Reiss joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Zolak & Bertrand on Tuesday to discuss how Patriots ownership may go about an organizational "reset" by bringing in a new head coach and general manager, and how those two roles could be intertwined.
One path, Reiss pointed out, would be seeking out a head coach first and then finding a GM who aligns with that coach.
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"They won't look at it as one or the other," Reiss said, as seen in the video above. "I think they would look at it like, the coach is obviously incredibly important, that's the culture-setter. Who is the coach thinking he would work great with, and do they like that fit?"
The other path would be the reverse: finding a GM first, then pairing them with a like-minded head coach. If the Patriots choose Path No. 2, Reiss suggested that San Francisco 49ers assistant general manager Adam Peters might be worth pursuing for the GM role.
"I'll just throw this name out ... There's a guy in San Francisco, right? That's a good program. His name is Adam Peters," Reiss said. "He actually came up through here (in New England). Do you talk to someone like that and say, 'Hey, if we were to build this thing in your vision, who do you envision yourself -- who would you bring with you to be your head coach?'"
The Patriots gave Peters his first NFL job when they hired him as a scouting assistant in 2003. He spent six seasons in New England from 2003 to 2008, winning a pair of Super Bowl titles before joining the Denver Broncos for seven years and then coming to the 49ers in 2016.
Reiss added that Path No. 1 -- finding a head coach first, then a GM -- seems more likely, and that it would make sense to give that coach a say in who's calling the shots personnel-wise.
"I still think it would be a coach, but it would be who you talk to," Reiss said. "Who do you envision yourself working with? And then, how do the Krafts like that fit? Do they feel comfortable with that person?"
If team owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft decide to part ways with Belichick this offseason, finding Belichick's successor would be their top priority -- especially considering New England is slated to have a top-10 draft pick and over $100 million to spend in free agency.
Check out the video above to watch the full discussion on Zolak & Bertrand.