Hannable: Who says Bill Belichick can’t coach Patriots for five or more years?

Cover Image
Photo credit Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

It seems ever since Super Bowl LII, many have been speculating on when Bill Belichick will retire from being head coach of the Patriots.

Not only does it stem from him being 65 years old, but the reported tension within the Patriots organization last season and the coach potentially getting sick of it, as well as Josh McDaniels returning to the Patriots after initially accepting the Colts' head-coaching job.

The belief is McDaniels only returned to the Patriots because he was given assurance he would succeed Belichick as coach of the Patriots and that would be sooner rather than later. Despite all that, nothing has been said publicly that would back it up.

McDaniels addressed what happened for the first time on Monday with an interview with the Boston Globe and the offensive coordinator said no promises were made to him.

“Once I heard from Robert [Kraft] and Bill on that Tuesday [following the Super Bowl], it just gave me reason to pause and consider this whole situation,” said McDaniels.

“The opportunity to stay here and work for who I think is the greatest owner in sports and the best head football coach in the history of our game, to work with the best quarterback that has ever played,” he added. “… Look, I’m privileged to have the opportunity to do that and when they kind of crystallized that — ‘Hey, here’s what we see going forward and here’s how we would like you to fit into it’ — it gave me a reason to stop and say, ‘All right, what’s the best decision for me?’ And certainly it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.”

This almost makes it seem like part of the reason he returned to New England was to be able to work with Belichick, and Kraft and Tom Brady. Basically, his words went against the rumors he returned to the Patriots because Belichick plans on leaving sooner rather than later.

Another theory on why Belichick would potentially retire was because of friction between he and Kraft from this past season stemming from the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo. 

If there truly was tension between the two, wouldn’t Kraft have made a different statement about the Malcolm Butler situation in the Super Bowl and not say he has faith in his coach?

"I have faith in Bill as a coach that I don't think there is anyone who has the football knowledge and expertise combined with understanding personnel," Kraft said to reporters Monday. "No one can merge those two worlds. And he's done pretty well for us over the last 18 years. So, as a fan, I can question some of the moves. As someone who's privileged to be the owner of this team, I encourage him to keep going with his instincts and doing what he thinks is right."

Kraft went to bat for Belichick, which says there are no major issues between the two that would potentially force the 65-year-old to leave.

Then came Tuesday at the NFL coaches breakfast when Belichick was asked about the salary cap and the balance between focusing on that season and looking a few years down the line.

“You have to be concerned with this year, obviously, but in my position, you have to see a little more than that as well,” he said to reporters. “We’re going to have a team next year. We’re going to have a team the year after that, so we kind of look at as many factors as you can with this year taking the priority. But it can’t be absolute. You have to have a balance in future years.”

While there have been reports of Belichick wanting to make sure the team is setup for long-term success when he eventually departs, human nature says he may have approached this offseason differently with signing some of his own free agents if he was planning on leaving in a year or two.

Also, acknowledging he’s looking years down the line doesn’t give off an impression he has any plans on leaving any time soon.

His actions this offseason also have shown he still has just as much passion for the sport and coaching as he did 10, 20, 30 years ago. He’s been a frequent visitor to college pro days across the country where he may be the most hands-on NFL coach there, working with a lot of the potential draftees.

Even though he’s 65 years old, he still loves the grind and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

“I enjoy all the parts of the process, from the game-planning and playing in the big games to evaluating prospects to bringing in the rookies in May that have never played or practiced in the National Football League,” said Belichick Sunday night to local reporters. “You start from scratch with them and seeing them grow along the way to some of the players that we’ve seen do that — the Matt Lights, the guys that have been part of the program for a long time.”

Then there’s his sons aspect.

Reportedly Belichick wants his sons to be in established places when he retires and right now, it would seem it’s a few years off. Last year was Steve’s second year as safeties coach after being in the system since 2012, while it was Brian’s first year as a coaching assistant. If Belichick really does want to make sure his sons are set up well for the future before calling it quits, it would seem it’s not for at least a few more years.

Belichick very well could call it a career in one, two, three years, but given recent evidence and how everyone is talking, maybe the future Hall of Famer isn’t as close to retiring as we think.