Advertisement

Apparently shut out for 2024, will Bill Belichick find a seat in 2025?

Bill Belichick apparently will go 0-for-7 when it comes to finding a head-coaching job in 2024. If, as it appears, nothing materializes in Seattle or Washington or elsewhere, what will happen in 2025?

The question of control will continue to hover over Belichick's prospects. Will he want the keys to the football operation? If so, will an owner be prepared to clear out and/or reassign the existing staff in order to accommodate Belichick?

Peter King made this point on Friday's PFT Live. Most teams now have a full and robust analytics staff, ready to constantly give input and advice to the head coach. What if Belichick doesn't want any of them around?

What if he wants no one around other than people he knows and trusts? That was one of the problems during his final years in New England. He was too reluctant to trust others. It's likely a byproduct of his upbringing on the campus of the Naval Academy, where football and the military combine to create an atmosphere of maximum secrecy.

Belichick knows people like to talk. They like to use information to trade favors. They like to impress others with the things they know. Belichick has run the Patriots with full awareness of those basic realities of human dynamics, spending two decades carefully shaping an undersized staff of coaches and others around him.

So if/when he takes over a new team, either the owner will be willing to pass out pink slips or Belichick will suddenly decide to place his faith and trust in a bunch of people he doesn't know at all and, if he does, he might not want around.

Meanwhile, where will his preferred coaching staff members be a year from now? Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is currently available. If he signs a multi-year contract to, for example, return to the Patriots and work with new coach Jerod Mayo, McDaniels likely won't be available to partner up with Belichick again. Ditto for others like Matt Patricia and Joe Judge and one or both of Belichick's sons.

Could a year in TV prompt Belichick to humble himself to the idea that he'll have to be a coach and only a coach? Maybe. Once he's a coach again, will he accept that?

It's a point we raised on Friday. If the team has a fortysomething General Manager who has full control over the draft and the roster and the G.M. wants to draft a certain player and Belichick makes a face and grunts, what will the G.M. do?

The issue isn't just drafting of players, but development of them. In New England, it's possible that the dearth of quality players in recent years traces as much to the coach's failure to develop the draft picks as it does to the de facto General Manager's failure to pick the right ones. If Belichick has struggled to properly groom the players he wanted, what will he do with players he didn't?

That's why anything other than full control for Belichick inevitably could lead to full-blown chaos. That's why any owner who wants Belichick in 2025 needs to be prepared to throw him the keys to the car, and to tell him to drive it wherever and however he wants.

Will someone do it? Belichick's constant presence on TV (if/when he takes a network job) will give him a platform for displaying his depth of knowledge. He will be far more engaging and charismatic than the person we see treating each and every press conference like a colonoscopy without anesthesia.

All it takes is one owner to decide to roll the dice. It won't be easy. It won't be cheap. But Belichick is a proven winner, an expert of experts in mastering situational football. If there's already a good roster in place, the risks of giving him full control will be minimized.

Teams to watch include (in my own assessment) the Bills, Browns, Jaguars, Giants, Eagles, Vikings, and Buccaneers.

I left off the Cowboys because, if it was ever going to happen, this was the year to do it.

I added the Giants because it's been long believed he would love to go back to the place where he won a pair of Super Bowls as defensive coordinator, and because the team took a nosedive in 2023 after a playoff berth in 2022.

The Browns are there because owner Jimmy Haslam has a demonstrated capacity to do desperate, impulsive things.

And the Vikings are there for a very simple reason. Owner Zygi Wilf was a huge Giants fan before buying the Vikings. It's not crazy to envision Zygi and Mark Wilf becoming smitten with the idea of giving Belichick a chance to take the just-good-enough Vikings to the top of the mountain the franchise has been trying to climb for more than 50 years.

That's still not a long list of potential options. It's seven. The same number of openings this year, with no owner willing either to turn over football operations to Belichick or to take the leap of faith that making him the coach and only the coach will not lead to widespread organizational dysfunction.

Will an owner be willing to do either thing in 2025?

Again, all it takes is one.