Not long ago, the idea of teams passing on the opportunity to hire Bill Belichick was laughable. Who wouldn't want arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history on their sideline?
The answer to that question: all of the teams that entered the offseason with head-coaching vacancies.
With the Washington Commanders hiring Dan Quinn as their next head coach, all of those vacancies have now been filled. The Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Las Vegas Raiders, and Los Angeles Chargers also hired new head coaches. Washington and Atlanta reportedly were the only teams that spoke with Belichick about their vacant positions. Atlanta ultimately opted for Raheem Morris after a lengthy interview process.
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Why wasn't Belichick the coveted candidate he was expected to be after parting ways with New England? According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, there were multiple factors that led to him potentially being jobless for 2024.
"Three primary reasons were echoed by numerous league sources: Belichick’s mishandling of the Patriots’ quarterback situation in recent years, his desire to maintain total control of football operations and a growing concern over the coach’s ability to relate to this generation of players," Howe wrote.
Those same three factors seemingly led to the end of his Patriots tenure. Since the departure of legendary quarterback Tom Brady, Belichick and the Patriots posted a 29-38 record and missed the playoffs in three of four seasons. QB has been far from the only weak spot on the roster, putting a spotlight on Belichick's shortcomings as a general manager. And with Belichick set to turn 72 years old, New England decided to transition to a younger, more relatable head coach in 37-year-old Jerod Mayo.
Unless a surprise job opens up for 2024 -- the Kansas City Chiefs come to mind -- Belichick will spend the year pondering his next move. He could land a television gig as an analyst, or he could sit back and wait for a mid-season head-coaching opportunity to become available.
Either way, the NFL won't be quite the same without the sight of Belichick's scowl on the sideline. Don Shula's all-time wins record appears to be safe, at least until 2025.