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Bill Belichick leaving Patriots after 24 seasons, six Super Bowl titles: ‘Greatest coach of all time’

Bill Belichick‘s historic tenure with the New England Patriots has come to an end, the record-setting coach announced Thursday, concluding an unprecedented run of success highlighted by six Super Bowl titles.

Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft met Wednesday and mutually agreed to part ways after 24 seasons, they confirmed during a nine-minute press conference.

“For me, this is a day of gratitude and celebration,” Belichick said.

The duo did not take questions during the press conference, nor did they expound on why they decided to move on separately. Belichick, 71, did not address his NFL future during the brief address. Kraft indicated, however, that he’s prepared for Belichick to continue coaching elsewhere, saying, “I will always wish him continued success, except when he’s playing our beloved Patriots.”

“He is the greatest coach of all time, which makes this decision to part ways so hard,” Kraft, 82, said. “But this is a move that we mutually agreed is needed at this time. What Bill accomplished with us, in my opinion, will never be replicated.”

The Patriots boasted a 266-121 record under Belichick, whose six championships are the most ever for an NFL coach. Belichick also led New England to three AFC championships that ended in Super Bowl losses, including two to the Giants.

Each of those Super Bowl appearances came during Belichick’s unparalleled partnership with star quarterback Tom Brady, who left the Patriots after the 2019 season and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady retired before the 2023 season after three years – and a seventh Super Bowl title – with Tampa.

The Patriots are fresh off back-to-back losing seasons, including in 2023, when they finished 4-13, marking Belichick’s worst record as a head coach. The Patriots lost Sunday’s regular season finale to the AFC East-rival Jets, ending their 15-game win streak over Gang Green.

The Patriots now appear poised for a rebuild and are expected to consider quarterbacks in the upcoming 2023 draft, in which they’re set to pick third. New England struggled recently to draft offensive talent under Belichick, who also operated as the team’s general manager.

Belichick, who would be the NFL’s oldest head coach if he returns, is expected to pursue other jobs, with the Falcons among those potentially interested, according to ESPN.

Belichick’s 302 regular-season wins rank third among NFL coaches, trailing only Don Shula’s 328 and George Halas’ 318. Belichick’s 333 total wins between the regular season and playoffs are 14 shy of Shula’s 347.

The Patriots won at least 10 games during 19 of Belichick’s seasons as head coach, including 17 consecutively from 2003-2019. They won 19 AFC East titles under Belichick.

Hanging over his tenure was a much-publicized scandal known as “Spygate,” which stemmed from a Patriots employee illegally filming Jets defensive signals in 2007. The NFL fined Belichick a record $500,000 for the incident.

Belichick’s exit represents the latest major domino to fall in a fast-changing coaching landscape that’s also seen the Seahawks move their Super Bowl-winning coach, Pete Carroll, into an advisory role and the Titans fire Mike Vrabel. At the college level, Nick Saban is reportedly expected to retire from Alabama after winning six championships in 17 seasons there.

Vrabel’s availability becomes more intriguing with the Patriots’ new coaching vacancy, considering he won three Super Bowls with the team as a linebacker under Belichick. Vrabel, who won NFL Coach of the Year honors in 2021, went 54-45 in six seasons with the Titans.

Before joining the Patriots, Belichick won Super Bowl titles as the Giants’ defensive coordinator under Bill Parcells after the 1986 and 1990 seasons.

He later served as a defensive assistant with the Jets under Parcells and was set to succeed him as head coach in 2000, only to resign after one day and leave for New England, where he spent the 1996 season as an assistant head coach.

Belichick went 36-44 in five seasons as head coach of the Browns from 1991-95, marking his only other head coaching gig.

“Bill has taught me a lot over those years, and we had high expectations for what we could achieve together,” Kraft said Thursday. “I think we were the only ones who had those expectations, and I think it’s safe to say we exceeded them thanks to [Belichick].”