Bill Belichick Exit

Why didn't Patriots trade Belichick? Kraft cites Brady in explanation

"Some people might criticize me for not extracting as much as value..."

NBC Universal, Inc.

Twenty-four years after sending a first-round pick to the New York Jets for the right to hire Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots are letting him walk out the door without seeking any return.

The Patriots and Belichick agreed to mutually part ways Thursday, meaning Belichick is free to explore head coaching opportunities elsewhere. Considering Belichick was under contract through 2024, it's fair to wonder whether team owner Robert Kraft explored the possibility of trading his legendary coach in return for a potentially high draft pick.

Our Phil Perry posed that question to Kraft during his press conference Thursday.

"That's an interesting question," Kraft replied. "I'm fortunate -- in our family, our businesses are all private, and so we try to create a culture and develop an environment where people want to stay and stay long-term.

🔊 Patriots Talk: A surreal day for Patriots as Belichick era ends | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"And yeah, I guess if you look at this as a transaction, he is so valuable, and how we could extract something -- I didn't think it was right for Tom Brady, who gave us 20 years (in New England) and I don't think it's right for Bill. I think each of them earned the right to be in a position where they should do what's right for us given what they have done for this franchise."

The Patriots signed Brady to a contract "extension" in August 2019 that in reality allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent in March 2020. That's exactly what happened, as Brady walked out the door in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

For Kraft, the team not trading Brady was a sign of respect for the future Hall of Fame quarterback that allowed him to dictate his own future, and it appears Kraft had the same thought process when it came to the end of Belichick's tenure.

"Some people might criticize me for not extracting as much as value (for Belichick via trade), and I understand that," Kraft said. "But we just tried to do what we think is right for the proper values and ability to operate and try to get people who want to come and feel that we're going to treat them fairly."

The Patriots certainly could have used the extra draft pick, as they have plenty of holes to fill on an offense that tied for last in the NFL in 2023. But Perry reported earlier Thursday that Belichick wouldn't have been amenable to a trade -- one source who knows both the Krafts and Belichick told Perry that Belichick would be "spiteful" if the team tried to deal him -- so it sounds like a parting of ways was the best course of action if Kraft and Belichick wanted to part on amicable terms.

A trade likely would have been a more drawn-out process, as well, so Thursday's announcement allows the Patriots to move forward with their head coaching search while giving Belichick extra time to pursue a new opportunity.

Contact Us