Bill Belichick leaving Patriots after 24 seasons, six titles


After 24 seasons as the head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick announced Thursday that “we are moving on,” while also fondly reminiscing about his unmatched run through the NFL, which culminated in six Super Bowls.

Belichick and Patriots Owner Robert Kraft met frequently throughout the week to discuss the future of the franchise. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the talks, there was no discord, no discord, and ultimately a mutual decision was reached that left both parties content and relaxed.

At Thursday’s news conference, Kraft called Belichick “the best coach of all time” and said he deserved to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“This is a mutual decision that we felt was necessary at this juncture,” Kraft said. “I have no doubt that what Bill has achieved will never be repeated.

Belichick said he would “always be a Patriots fan,” and thanked Kraft and Kraft’s family for the “opportunity and support” he had been given. “We set out to build a championship-caliber football team, and it has exceeded all my wildest hopes and expectations,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I will cherish these memories for years to come.”

With one year left on his deal, Belichick will be permitted to resign without the Patriots offering him a new deal.  Belichick wants to coach again and is likely to be courted by at least a few of the seven other teams that have openings for head coaches, including Atlanta, league sources told ESPN.

 It will be hard not to see him wearing a hoodie on the sidelines, but I will always wish him the best of luck, as long as it’s not against my beloved New England Patriots, Kraft said.

The Patriots will now begin their first coaching search in 25 years. Patriots linebackers coach, who was signed to a long-term contract in the offseason and whom Kraft has praised as a rising coach-to-be, is expected to be considered one of the top contenders for the job, according to sources. Mayo, who played for the Patriots (2008-15) and has served as an assistant under coach Bill Belichick since 2019, could be hired by the Patriots at any time without going through the traditional NFL hiring process. If Mayo is the chosen one, and the Patriots have built a succession plan into the deal he signed last off-season, the organization could easily hire him at any time.

If, in the end, Mayo is the chosen one, and the Patriots put a succession plan in place in the deal he signed last off-season, the team can hire him at any time without going through the NFL’s traditional hiring process. In his second news conference Thursday, Kraft said he decided not to trade Belichick, calling it “unwise” to treat the coach’s departure as a transaction and likening the situation to when Tom Brady went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

We’re in the market for a coach who can get us back in the playoff and win it, Kraft said. 

On Instagram, Brady expressed his admiration for Belichick, who he called the greatest coach in NFL history. “Over the years, we’ve accomplished a lot of great things together, some of which will never be seen again. He worked hard every day to make sure we could reach our ultimate goal in the ultimate sport….I wouldn’t be the player I am today without Coach Belichick, and I’m so grateful for everything he’s done for me. Good luck to you in whatever you do next.

Belichick’s departure from New England came less than a day after his friend Nick Saban left Alabama.

There’s a certain symmetry and similarity in the departure of two of the greatest coaches in professional and college football history.Belichick won nine Super Bowls and six Super Bowls with the Patriots, while Saban won nine SEC championships and six national championships with Alabama.

In addition, in 1980, Saban replaced Pete Carroll as Ohio State’s secondary coach; in 1991 and 1994, when he was head coach of Cleveland, he and Saban worked together; and in 2000, when he replaced Carroll as head coach of the Patriots, all three men vacated their longtime jobs within 24 hours of each other.

There’s a certain amount of sadness that comes with the news that Belichick and Kraft will be going their separate ways, but it doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, Kraft said it was “very important” that the Patriots make the playoffs this year. Instead, the Patriots were one of the last teams out of the gate on Dec. 10, 2022.

The speculation about Belichick’s future continued throughout the 2023 season. One of the team’s worst performances came on Nov. 12, 2022, when they lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 10-6, in Frankfurt, Germany.


Before that game, when asked about this past season, Kraft, now 82, said on NFL Network: “It’s been a very disappointing year. I had high hopes for this year, and I know our fans did….This isn’t what we expected to see.”

Another significant factor for Kraft is how the franchise has performed since Brady left as a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. The Patriots have lost three of their last four seasons since losing Brady, which has been a source of pain for Kraft. The Patriots’ last playoff victory was 13-3 over the then-Los Angeles Rams in February 3, 2019, when Brady was still on the team.

At 71, he leaves New England having won 333 games (including playoff games) in his career, second only to Don Shula (347) in NFL history. Only George Halas (6 championships) and Curly (6) Lambeau (6 championships) have won six championships in the NFL since 1933.

Belichick’s 24-year coaching career was the fifth longest of any single-season head coach in NFL history. He wrapped up his 49th consecutive regular-season game in 2023, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Now he’ll try to spend season 50 with another NFL team. Kraft called it an “emotional day” for the organization and explained why he felt the decision was the right one.

The New England Patriots are in the hands of our family, and we understand how important this asset is to the fabric of our community,” Kraft said. “What has transpired here over the past three to four years is unacceptable, and we have a duty to do everything in our power to rectify the situation.”

As he leaves New England, there are a few accomplishments on his resume that are likely to remain for years to come:

• 17 conference championships, the most in NFL history for a head coach, second only to Shula (13) and trailing only Andy Reid (13).

• He also won nine conference championships, which is the most of any head coach in Super Bowl history.

• He also won 12 Super Bowls (including as an assistant) during his coaching career.

• He compiled 21 winning seasons, which ranks fourth in NFL history behind only Halas with 40, Shula with 33, Lambeau with 33 and Landry with 29.

• In fact, it was one of only four unbeaten regular seasons in the history of the NFL (2007) and the only one in the 16-year span (1978 to 2020) where players won championships.

•  Belichick added, “I’ve had the privilege of coaching some of the best players ever to play the game.