Despite a recent report that Bill Belichick agreed to a "lucrative" and "multi-year" new contract with the New England Patriots prior to this season, it's not unfathomable to imagine Belichick and the team parting ways in the near future.
That begs the question: Where might Belichick land (assuming he doesn't retire), and what role would he have with his new team? After all, the legendary head coach is also the Patriots' de facto general manager. Would he agree to just be the head coach for another NFL team, or would he want final say in personnel decisions as he does in New England?
Former NFL executive Thomas Dimitroff, who worked for Belichick for six seasons as the Patriots' national scout (2002) and director of college scouting (2003 to 2007) before serving as the Atlanta Falcons' general manager for 12 seasons (2008 to 2020), shared some interesting perspective Thursday.
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"There is no way Bill Belichick leaves the New England Patriots and doesn't have three, four or more opportunities knocking at his door -- not to be just a head coach, in my mind, but to also be the czar," Dimitroff told host Kay Adams on FanDuel TV's Up & Adams show.
"In my mind, and I'm speaking out a little bit, I don't think Bill Belichick ever goes to a place where he's working alongside or with a general manager. He has to be that guy. That's what he deserves to be after all he's done in this league."
There's been some speculation as to whether team owner Robert Kraft would keep Belichick in New England but reduce some of his general manager responsibilities, with Belichick ceding a bit more control to director of player personnel Matt Groh. It sounds like Dimitroff can't see that happening, however, and can't see Belichick entering a situation where he's strictly the head coach reporting to a GM.
If Dimitroff's hunch is right, an NFL team would have to offer Belichick head coach and GM responsibilities to bring him in. But Dimitroff still sees a market for Belichick in that scenario -- in fact, he could envision teams calling about acquiring Belichick via trade if he's still under contract.
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"I think as an organization, you have to look at everything," Dimitroff said. "...I know it's heresy sometimes to talk about him leaving there, and I agree, it doesn't seem like he should leave there, he should finish there. But with everything going on -- back to astute general managers and people that are creative in this league, I think it's worth the stirring up of conversations and the reaching out to New England to ever see if (a trade) would be of interest."
NFL head coach trades are rare but not uncommon; the Denver Broncos sent first- and second-round picks to the New Orleans Saints to acquire Sean Payton this past offseason, and Belichick himself came to New England via trade when Kraft sent a first-rounder, fourth-rounder and fifth-rounder to the New York Jets in 2000.
It's possible the Patriots turn their season around after a 2-5 start and Belichick stays in New England for at least two more seasons. But if things continue to go south in Foxboro, perhaps an enterprising team calls One Patriot Place about a Belichick trade -- and perhaps Kraft listens.