Insider Details When Patriots Decided to Part Ways With Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick

Getty Bill Belichick at his postgame press conference after the Patriots lost to the Jets January 7 in the season finale.

The Bill Belichick era with the New England Patriots officially ended on January 11. But according to NFL insider Albert Breer, Robert Kraft’s decision to move on from Belichick came much earlier than the end of the 2023 season.

Breer revealed during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub that Kraft decided Belichick’s future months ago. That decision came after the team loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Munich.

“This was done in Germany. And this was, there was every warning shot in the world the way that Robert talked to people over there,” Breer said to co-hosts Marc Bertrand and Scott Zolak. “I personally know how he privately expressed to people how important this game was to him. He addressed the team in the walk-through and repeated that to them.

“And I think because they couldn’t get the team going for that game in Germany, right, and where they were at that point and what they’d already been through, the decision was made then.”

The Patriots suffered their 10-6 loss to the Colts in Munich on November 12. It was their third straight loss and the team’s second three-game losing streak of the season.

The defeat also dropped the Patriots to 2-8. At the time, only the Carolina Panthers held a worse record.

Multiple Reporters Cite Munich Loss to Colts as Tipping Point for Bill Belichick

Breer isn’t the first reporter to suggest that Belichick’s fate was sealed after the defeat in Germany.

NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran made the same report as Breer in December — losing in Munich was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“When they came out of Germany, conversations I had that week made it very clear that a decision was made,” Curran said on December 11. “They were going to play out the string, and at the end of the year there would be a parting of the ways.”

The Patriots could have departed with Belichick immediately since the decision about his future had been made. But Curren cited “you don’t fire Bill Belichick during the season” as the reason he stayed.

According to The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, though, departing with Belichick during the season was on the table in early November.

“Based on my conversations, I don’t think it’s 100 percent that Belichick finishes out this season,” Volin wrote on November 3. “These next two games before the bye are huge, particularly the Germany game, which is practically the team’s Super Bowl for the Krafts.

“If Belichick loses at home to the Commanders and then to the Colts, and comes home from Germany with a 2-8 record, I think there’s a chance the Krafts could make the move in the bye week and install Jerod Mayo as the interim coach for the final seven games.”

Of course, that didn’t happen. Belichick apparently had earned the right to finish the season. But winning on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos in the season’s final five weeks did nothing to change Kraft’s mind.

His decision on Belichick reportedly had been made.

The Timing of Belichick’s Departure From Patriots

Waiting four days after the season to depart with a head coach is a bit unusual. But Breer said there was a reason for that.

“My understanding is he had I think a brief meeting with Robert on Monday. But I think the longer one was yesterday,” Breer said. “Then I wouldn’t be surprised if they could have done this last night. And Bill knew the [Nick] Saban thing was coming and maybe didn’t want to upstage his buddy, right? Like that would make some sense, wouldn’t it?

“I think it certainly stands to reason that maybe they came to an agreement yesterday afternoon and Bill was just like. ‘Hey look. I know something’s coming and I just want to give my buddy his day. I don’t want to upstage anything that’s happening down there. So let’s do it tomorrow morning.”

Regardless of timing, the Patriots will have a different head coach than Belichick for the first time this century. The last time the Patriots had someone other than Belichick as their head coach was Pete Carroll in 1999.

Ironically, Carroll is now available as well. The Seattle Seahawks announced their plans to go in a different direction at head coach on January 10.