New England Patriots

Patriots insider: ‘A decision was made' on Bill Belichick's future

Don't expect a late-season surge to change the end result in New England

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The Patriots' stirring upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers on "Thursday Night Football" has introduced a hypothetical: If New England somehow wins its final four games or at least finishes the season strong, will ownership be convinced to keep head coach Bill Belichick for another season?

The short answer, it appears, is no.

According to NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Tom E. Curran, the Patriots' embarrassing 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt, Germany, on Nov. 12 led to the team concluding it would part ways with Belichick after the 2023 season.

"When they came out of Germany, conversations I had that week made it very clear that a decision was made," Curran said Monday on NBC Sports Boston's "Arbella Early Edition," as seen in the video above. "They were going to play out the string, and at the end of the year there would be a parting of the ways, for a variety of reasons."

That loss on the international stage -- which dropped the Patriots to 2-8 -- was so bad that some wondered if team owner Robert Kraft would fire Belichick mid-season. That scenario always seemed highly unlikely, but it sounds like the Krafts had already seen enough through 10 games to understand a change needed to be made in 2024.

"You don't fire Bill Belichick during the season. It's just not gonna happen," Curran said. "Additionally, though, he's an asset. He's under contract for another year, which we reported after NFL Media reported there was a long-term extension in place that would keep Bill locked up long-term. It's only through next year, so that would not be an impediment to them changing course, and it had gone too far.

"The Germany game, the Commanders game, the Saints game: all huge marquee games, and then there was the Chargers game after that. Just because they won last week in Pittsburgh in prime time, I don't think it quells anything."

The Patriots indeed have hit a series of "rock bottoms" this season, starting with blowout losses to the Dallas Cowboys (38-3) and New Orleans Saints (34-0) and continuing with a 20-17 home loss to a mediocre Washington team, a flop against the Colts in Germany and back-to-back losses to the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers.

So, while Belichick's legacy as a six-time Super Bowl winning head coach is irrefutable, his recent track record -- especially as de facto general manager -- has necessitated a change.

"Even if they win out, they still end up with seven wins, out of the postseason, trending in the wrong direction," NBC Sports Boston Patriots insider Phil Perry added. "And it doesn't erase all of the personnel errors that Tom and I have been talking about for a long time here.

"So, I'm sure the Krafts are looking at that and also looking at this offseason and all the cap space they have and what looks like could be a top-three pick in the draft, and it would be fair for them to ask, 'Is Bill Belichick the right guy to lead us through that offseason into 2024 and beyond?'"

Check out the full discussion with Curran, Perry and host Trenni Casey in the YouTube video below.

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