It’s official: Patriots announce longtime coach Bill Belichick is leaving New England

FOXBORO, Mass. — It’s unclear whether Bill Belichick will be on another NFL sideline in 2024 or if he’ll sail his ship, ‘VIII Rings’ into a permanent Nantucket sunset. What is known is that the architect of the 21st century’s greatest dynasty is on his way out in New England, bringing his brush and easel with him, and closing the doors of the building where he painted football’s masterpiece behind him.

The future Hall of Famer is reportedly out as Patriots head coach, wrapping up a legacy in New England that includes six championships, 9 trips to the Super Bowl, 17 division titles, and 266 wins with the team.

During a noon news conference Thursday, team owner Robert Kraft confirmed that the team has “mutually agreed” to part ways with Belichick after 24 seasons of unprecedented success.

“This is a move we mutually agreed is needed at this time,” Kraft explained. “It represents the end of an era that will hopefully always be celebrated in this region.”

HAPPENING SOON: Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick to speak at joint news conference at Gillette

HAPPENING NOW: Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick speaking at joint news conference at Gillette Stadium.

Posted by Boston 25 News on Thursday, January 11, 2024

Belichick said, “I’ll always be a Patriot. I look forward to coming back here. But right now it’s time to move on.”

Alongside Tom Brady, Belichick and the Patriots were scrutinized as often as they were celebrated. Belichick more than earned his reputation as the gruff and surly chieftain of the closest things sports has come to the Kremlin. But the wealth of knowledge that Belichick rarely disclosed to the media, he divulged to the locker room in a clear vision. Everything — the hill sprints in muggy Massachusetts summers, the extended hours in the facility, the sacrifices in snaps and repetitions is to serve the greater whole, the team — The Patriot Way.

When Belichick resigned as ‘HC of the NYJ’, he did so to return to the place he’d been before and to coach under an owner he trusted. Belichick had complete dominion over New England’s roster, immediately drafting future impact players like Richard Seymour and Matt Light and making the call to start little-known QB Tom Brady over franchise QB Drew Bledsoe, even when the latter was healthy.

Although Belichick’s first five years delivered three Super Bowl banners, his “a year too early than a year too late” mantra saw players like Ty Law, Richard Seymour, and Lawyer Milloy make what some fans saw as unearned and unceremonious exits. It’s the same philosophy that saw shorter and shorter contracts for Tom Brady as his longtime signal caller approached, and then blew past 40 years old, setting the stage for the three-time MVP’s departure in free agency in 2020.

After Brady departed for Tampa Bay, the Patriots tried a revolving door of QBs as the offense sunk to the bottom of the league. The Patriots have only made the playoffs once in their first four seasons without Brady and what started as a decline ended in a plummet this past year as New England finished last in the AFC East for the first time since 2000, Belichick’s first year on the job.

Belichick on Monday told reporters that he’d be open to relinquishing personnel control if that would help the Patriots move forward. Belichick also volunteered to the press that he was under contract for 2024, a rare acknowledgment of future plans from the traditionally button-upped coach.

Whoever is next to patrol the Patriots’ sidelines and head the front office has their work cut out for them. Although the Patriots hold the number 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, there’s no guarantee that Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, the draft’s consensus two best signal callers, will still be there when New England is on the clock.

With nothing but question marks at quarterback, an offensive line seemingly splitting at the seams, and a pass-catching core bereft of elite playmakers, whoever follows in Belichick’s footsteps will be tasked with turning around an offense that hasn’t been one of the league’s elite since Brady’s final seasons.

A hard enough task on its own, never mind trying to match the enduring, unimpeachable legacy they will follow behind.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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