Bill Belichick leaving Patriots after coaching them for 24 years and winning six titles

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Bill Belichick is leaving his position as New England Patriots coach after 24 seasons and six Super Bowl wins, saying Thursday that “we’re going to move on”  while also reflecting on his incredible run in NFL history.

Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft had several meetings this week to talk about how they wanted to go forward. According to sources who knew about those conversations, there was no conflict, no argument, and in the end, constructive discussions led to a joint decision that made both sides happy and relaxed.

At a press conference Thursday, Kraft praised Belichick as the best coach ever who should be in the Hall of Fame on his first try.

“This is a move that we mutually agreed that is needed at this time,” Kraft said. “What Bill accomplished, in my opinion, will never be duplicated.”

Belichick, who said he will “always be a Patriot,” expressed his 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 very proud of that. I’ll always have those great memories, will carry those with me the rest of my life.”

Belichick, who still had one year left on his contract, will be allowed to exit the team without the Patriots asking for anything in return. He wants to keep coaching and is likely to attract attention from some of the other seven NFL teams that need a head coach, possibly the Atlanta Falcons, league sources said.

“It’ll be difficult to see him in a cutoff hoodie on the sideline, but I’ll always wish him continued success, except when it’s against the beloved Patriots,”

The Patriots will start looking for a new head coach for the first time in 25 years. Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, who got a contract extension in the offseason and Kraft has named as a potential head-coaching candidate, is expected to be one of the top choices for the job, sources said. Mayo was a player for the Patriots from 2008 to 2015 and has been a coach under Belichick since 2019.

If Mayo is the final pick, and the Patriots made a plan for him to take over in the contract he signed last offseason, the team could hire him anytime without following the usual NFL hiring process.

Kraft said in another press conference Thursday that he didn’t want to trade Belichick, saying he  “didn’t think it was right” to make the coach’s exit a deal and comparing the situation to Tom Brady going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We’re looking for someone who can help us get back to the playoffs and win,” Kraft said.

Brady posted about Belichick’s departure on Instagram, calling him “the greatest coach in the NFL history.”

“We accomplished some amazing things over a long period of time, many of which will be hard to replicate,” Brady wrote. “He worked every day to help us achieve the ultimate goal, in the ultimate team sport. … I could never have been the player I was without you Coach Belichick. I am forever grateful. And I wish you the best of luck in whatever you choose next.”

Belichick left New England less than a day after his good friend Nick Saban quit Alabama.

There is a connection and a resemblance in the exits of two football icons — men who are widely regarded as the best coach in pro history and the best coach in college football history. Belichick helped the Patriots get to nine Super Bowls and win six of them; Saban helped Alabama win nine SEC titles and six national titles.

Also, Saban took over from Pete Carroll as the Ohio State secondary coach in 1980; when Belichick was the head coach in Cleveland, he had Saban as his assistant from 1991 to 1994; and Belichick took Carroll’s place as the Patriots’ head coach in 2000, long before all three left their long-time jobs this week in a day.

Belichick and Kraft splitting up is sad, but not shocking. Kraft had stressed how much he wanted the Patriots to reach the playoffs this season. But they were one of the first teams to be out, on Dec. 10.

There was a lot of talk about Belichick’s future during the 2023 season, with one of the worst moments for the team happening Nov. 12 in a 10-6 defeat to the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany.

Before that game, talking about this past season, the 82-year-old Kraft said to NFL Network: “”It’s really been disappointing. I had hoped things would be a lot better, as I know our fan base did. … This isn’t what we were expecting to happen this year.”

Another important factor for Kraft was the team’s direction since Brady left as a free agent after the 2019 season. Since losing Brady, which hurt Kraft, the Patriots have had losing records in three of their four seasons, and their last playoff win was a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3, 2019 — when Brady was on the team.

Belichick, 71, departs New England with 333 career wins (including playoffs), ranking second all time behind Don Shula and his 347. Belichick, George Halas and Curly Lambeau are the only NFL coaches with six titles since the league started postseason play in 1933.

Belichick’s 24-year run was the fifth-longest of any head coach with one team. He finished his 49th consecutive NFL season in 2023, the most consecutive coaching seasons in league history.

He is now looking to spend season No. 50 with another NFL team.

Kraft called it a  “emotional day” for the organization while explaining why he thought it was the right decision.

“Our family is the custodian of this asset, the New England Patriots, and we know how important it is to the psyche of the community,” Kraft said. “What’s gone on here the last three to four years isn’t what we want, so we have a responsibility to do what we can to fix it to the best of our ability.”

Belichick leaves New England with these achievements that are likely to last for a long time:

  • 17 division titles, the most by an NFL head coach, with Shula, Andy Reid and Tom Landry in second place with 13 each.
  • Nine conference titles, the most by a head coach in the Super Bowl era.
  • 12 Super Bowl trips (including his time as an assistant).
  • 21 winning seasons as a head coach, which is behind only Halas (40), Shula (33), Lambeau (33) and Landry (29).
  • One of four perfect regular seasons in NFL history (2007). It was the only one with 16 games, which was played from 1978 to 2020.

“Players win games in the NFL,” Belichick said. “I’ve been very, very fortunate to coach some of the greatest players to ever play the game.”

About Post Author

Danny Freeman

Danny Freeman is a correspondent for usnewsdaily , based in Philadelphia. The Emmy Award-winning reporter joined usnewsdaily in 2023 from NBC10 in Philadelphia. While at NBC10, Freeman worked as an Investigative Reporter focused on campaign finance, environmental issues, and police accountability. Freeman returned to the East Coast after working as a political reporter for NBC 7 in San Diego, where he hosted “Politically Speaking,” the station’s weekly public affairs show. Prior to that, he was a reporter at KGET-17 News, the NBC affiliate in Bakersfield, California.
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