What is Bill Belichick's future with the New England Patriots?
Nobody knows for sure, but it's not crazy to consider at least the possibility that the legendary head coach and the team could part ways next offseason.
The Patriots are headed for a third season in the last four with no playoff games. It's also quite possible that New England finishes last in the AFC East for the first time since 2000. Not only is the team playing poorly, there doesn't seem to be much of a long-term plan, either.
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Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio talked about Belichick's future earlier this week.
"There's still a long way to go," Florio said. "But if they finish last in that division, don't turn things around and don't make it to the playoffs, there's going to be a mutual parting, I believe, between the Patriots and Bill Belichick when the season is over."
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If the Patriots and Belichick did part ways after the season, what would his options be? What's the thought around the league about a potential free agent Belichick?
"That he'd most certainly have options and that there would be opportunity for him there," Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer said Sunday on NBC Sports Boston's Patriots Pregame Live.
"Now there's nuance to it, of course. One of the reasons there would be options, I think most people believe this, because last year there were a smaller amount of openings and that usually leads to a year with more openings. So the idea is maybe there are eight or 10 openings this year. So the amount of opportunities out there for all coaches plays into this."
Even if there were plenty of options for Belichick, how many teams would give him total control if that's what he would want?
"I think the nuance here is the sort of role that he would play for another organization and that there are very few organizations that give the keys to the kingdom to one person anymore," Breer explained.
"So I think it would sort of depend on, if Bill were out of here, what he wanted to do. Does he want to just go coach somewhere? Does he want to do what Bill Parcells did in Miami or Mike Holmgren did in Cleveland? I think both those opportunities would probably be out there for him. I just don't know that the whole thing would be out there for him and he's done things his way for a long, long time."
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Perhaps a similar path Belichick could follow is what Andy Reid did when he joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. He focused on coaching and let someone else handle roster management. It's worked out pretty well for Reid, to say the least.
"(Belichick has) had final say on absolutely everything in the football operation here for 24 years," Breer said. "Would he be willing to do what Andy Reid did? Andy Reid, when he went from Philadelphia to Kansas City, took a little bit of a step back from personnel and gave more power to John Dorsey and eventually Brett Veach.
"Does Bill want to coach that badly, if he were to be out of here, where he would be willing to take on a different setup somewhere else? I almost think it would be easier for him to do that elsewhere than it would be to do it here. But I certainly think there will be opportunities for him to coach or be an executive somewhere else. Again, the question is whether someone will give him the keys to the kingdom the way that Robert Kraft did in 2000."
You can argue that Belichick has done a poor job managing the Patriots roster in recent years, especially since Tom Brady left after the 2019 campaign. But he's still an excellent coach, and if he were a free agent, teams would be wise to try to hire him.