At least one noteworthy individual thinks New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft could consider moving on from legendary head coach Bill Belichick as soon as next winter.
"Robert Kraft already made it clear in March that he wants the Patriots to make the postseason and win a playoff game for the first time in five years," Boston Globe NFL senior writer Ben Volin wrote for a piece published Tuesday. "He also paid Jerod Mayo handsomely to keep him off the coaching market and likely views him as the team’s coach-in-waiting. And Belichick’s friends have privately said they are worried that he is on the hot seat in 2023."
Belichick is widely regarded as arguably the greatest coach in NFL history and has guided the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships during his tenure. However, he won those titles with Tom Brady serving as his starting quarterback. Since Brady left New England as a free agent after the 2019 season, Belichick's Patriots have missed the playoffs twice across the past three campaigns.
Meanwhile, Belichick turned 71 years old this past April.
Volin also suggested that Patriots quarterback Mac Jones "is in pretty tight with the Krafts—perhaps tighter than Belichick is" at this stage of Jones' young career. It was first reported in January that Jones angered Belichick by going behind the coach's back to find fixes for the team's struggling offense last season, and it was later said Belichick "shopped" the 2021 first-round draft pick this offseason.
It's unclear, at best, if Belichick wanted to part ways with Jones ahead of this year's draft, but Volin noted that the 24-year-old "seems to truly have the backing of ownership" ahead of training camp. Back in February, Patriots insider Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston said Kraft would "absolutely, positively not" give up on Jones before next year at the earliest.
Whatever did or didn't happen after Jones' rookie season, his relationship with Belichick has a fresh start following the hiring of new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien. Nevertheless, even the idea that some think Belichick could be coaching for his job this fall shows just how much has changed since the Brady-led Patriots lost a wild-card playoff game to the Tennessee Titans in January 2020.
Then again, such chatter about Belichick may produce little more than laughter among members of the NFL community next summer if Jones becomes a two-time Pro Bowl selection by the end of February 2024.