Bill Belichick will step down as New England Patriots coach after a record 24 seasons, stating Thursday that “we’re going to move on” but also reflecting lovingly on his unrivaled tenure in NFL history, which included six Super Bowl championships.
Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft met several times this week to discuss how they wanted to proceed. According to those involved with the chats, there was no friction or argument, and in the end, good discussions ended in a consensual resolution that made both parties comfortable and at rest.
During a news conference on Thursday, Kraft praised Belichick as the greatest coach of all time and said he deserved to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
“This is a move that we mutually agreed that is needed at this time,” Kraft said in a statement. “What Bill accomplished, in my opinion, will never be duplicated.”
Belichick, who stated that he will “always be a Patriot,” expressed gratitude to Kraft and his family for the chance and support, saying, “We had a vision of building a championship football team that has exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations.” I’m quite proud of that. I’ll always have those wonderful recollections and will keep them with me for the rest of my life.
Belichick, who has one year left on his contract, will be able to leave the Patriots without being compensated. He wants to continue coaching and is anticipated to be approached by at least some of the other seven NFL teams with head-coaching vacancies, including the Atlanta Falcons, according to league sources.
The Patriots will now conduct their first head-coaching search in a quarter century. According to insiders, Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, whom the organization signed to a contract deal in the offseason and Kraft has identified as a potential head-coaching contender, is expected to be one of, if not the top candidate for the job. Mayo played with the Patriots from 2008 to 2015 and has been Belichick’s assistant since 2019.
If Mayo is finally chosen, and the Patriots included a succession plan in the contract he signed last summer, the team can hire him at any time without going through the usual NFL hiring procedure.