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Belichick, Patriots Part Ways After 24 Seasons, Six Super Bowls

The most successful pairing of a coach and franchise in NFL history is over. Bill Belichick is set to leave the New England Patriots.

“[Patriots owner] Robert [Kraft] and I, after a series of discussions, have mutually agreed to part ways. For me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration,” Belichick said in a press conference on Thursday. “We had a vision of building a winner, building a championship football team here. It’s exceeded my wildest dreams and expectations, the amount of success that we were able to achieve together through a lot of hard work and the contributions of so many people.”

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“Like a good marriage, a successful head coach-owner relationship requires a lot of hard work and I’m very proud that our partnership lasted for 24 years,” Kraft said. “I don’t think in the NFL there’s been any partnership that’s lasted longer and has been as productive as ours.”

Belichick’s 24-year resume with the Patriots is unprecedented in the free agent era of football. He won 69% of his games and 17 division titles, including a record 11 straight. His 30 playoff wins are 10 more than legendary coach Tom Landry won with the Dallas Cowboys. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has 22 total playoff wins between his stints in Philadelphia and Kansas City; Belichick has 31 playoff wins overall, including one with Cleveland.

Belichick’s six Super Bowl wins in nine appearances are two more than any other coach. George Halas and Curly Lambeau are the coaches who each won six titles in the pre-Super Bowl era, but the last of those was secured in 1944, and there were typically only 10 NFL teams during most of those years.

The value of the Patriots soared from $460 million in 2000 to a recent $6.7 billion, and Kraft rewarded Belichick with the top salary in the game as the Super Bowls piled up. His contract details were a closely guarded secret, but Sportico estimated his latest extension was worth $25 million a year based on conversations with those familiar with NFL coaching contracts; the deal ran through 2024. He topped Sportico’s list of the highest-paid coaches across U.S. sports the past three years. He’s earned an estimated $225 million during his seasons as an NFL head coach with the Patriots and Cleveland Browns.

The 71-year-old Belichick has been on an NFL sideline for a league-record 49 straight seasons, including 29 as a head coach, and is expected to draw interest from the multiple teams who need a new coach for 2024. His 302 career regular-season wins are 26 behind Don Shula for the NFL’s all-time record.

His divorce from the Patriots means at least eight NFL teams will have new coaches next season. The news comes a day after a pair of fellow 70-something coaching legends left their jobs with Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks) and Nick Saban (Alabama).

Belichick built his reputation as a defensive coach for the New York Giants during the 1980s, and the Browns hired him as head coach after the Giants’ 1990 Super Bowl win. His five-year contract was worth $550,000 annually. Belichick posted only one winning season in Cleveland in five years and was fired after the 1995 season with a 36-44 record.

He reunited with his mentor Bill Parcells the next season in New England and followed him to the New York Jets the following year. Belichick was in line to take over the Jets from Parcells after the 1999 season, but 24 hours after he was hired and headed to his introductory press conference, he famously handed a scribbled note to a Jets official that said was resigning as the “HC of the NYJ.”

The Patriots swooped in and traded a first-round pick for the right to sign Belichick as their coach for the 2000 season. His initial five-year contract was worth roughly $2 million annually. After a losing first season, Belichick led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history with a second-year quarterback, Tom Brady, who had been the 196th overall pick in the previous year’s NFL Draft and replaced Drew Bledsoe when he was injured in September 2021.

Brady and Belichick reeled off 19 straight winning seasons together. Brady secured his standing as the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and his status grew further when he left the Patriots after the 2019 season and led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in his first year there. In contrast, Belichick’s reputation has taken hits since the Brady divorce. The Patriots have posted three losing seasons over the last four years and bottomed out in 2023 with a 4-13 record, tied for second-worst in the NFL.

(This story has been updated to include quotes in the second and third paragraphs from the Patriots’ press conference.)

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