Bill Belichick, the most successful NFL head coach in recent memory, is having a season to forget.
His New England Patriots, once perennial title-game participants, are 1-5, the franchise’s worst mark through six games since 1995, well before Belichick took over as HC of NE. Making matters worse, the Pats are in the middle of a three-game losing streak during which they’ve scored just 20 points and are four games behind the AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins.
2023 is shaping up to be the worst of Belichick’s 24 seasons in New England, but will it be his last? If a surprising Patriots offseason decision is any indication, the chances of his imminent departure are slim.
Belichick quietly signed a lucrative, multiyear contract extension with the Patriots during the offseason, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday on NFL GameDay Morning.
“His contract [is] one of the most closely held secrets in New England. That said, I think it’s fair to say there was some, at least, uncertainty or intrigue surrounding him,” Rapoport explained. “Now, contractually, he is locked up long-term.”
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It’s unclear when Belichick’s prior contract was set to expire and how long this new one will last. But one thing is clear: Owner Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization envision Belichick, 71, in their immediate and long-term future and are not inclined to move on from him this season.
The decision to extend Belichick, who is both New England’s head coach and general manager, may come as a surprise amid the Patriots’ awful start to the 2023 season, but consider that the six-time Super Bowl champion HC and living legend is nearing history in several respects.
Belichick currently has the third-most regular-season wins (299) in NFL history, stuck there since a Week 3 victory over the New York Jets. A win Sunday over the visiting Buffalo Bills (4-2) would give him the elusive 300th victory. He is also currently 30 wins from passing Hall of Fame coach Don Shula (328) for most all-time.
There are few mountains left for Belichick to conquer as a head coach in the NFL, but if the Patriots skipper is set on breaking Shula’s mark — or at least passing George Halas (318) — then he needs to stick around for a few more seasons. (At New England’s current pace, more than a few more.)
With potential successors Bill O’Brien and Jerod Mayo currently on New England’s coaching staff, how patient will Kraft and Co. be with arguably the best NFL coach of all time, as the Patriots, built and led by Belichick, potentially limp to their first consecutive losing seasons since 1989-1993? The coach’s extension suggests quite patient.
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