Breer: Belichick's contract has parallel to Brady's final Pats deal originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Could Bill Belichick follow in the footsteps of the legendary quarterback he chose not to re-sign three years ago?
Last week, it was reported that Belichick agreed to terms on a "lucrative multi-year new contract" with the New England Patriots this past offseason. Our Tom E. Curran provided the context that Belichick's deal runs through 2024, and that the new contract wouldn't necessarily prevent Patriots owner Robert Kraft from parting ways with the head coach if the team continues to struggle.
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer joined Patriots Pregame Live on Sunday to share more intel on Belichick's current deal -- and how it may be similar in some ways to Tom Brady's final contract with the Patriots before he left the team in 2020 free agency.
"If you go back and look at the initial reports last week of the contract, there's one word you didn't hear, and that was 'extension,' because it wasn't an extension," Breer said of Belichick's deal.
"This, (based on) my understanding, was a new deal, and whether or not it was through 2024 or 2025 effectively, my understanding is, it changes nothing. And if it is only through 2024, well, this sets up a little bit like the Tom Brady situation four years ago.
"That was initially trumpeted as an extension as well, and about an hour or two hours after the initial news got out there, Tom Brady made himself available, said some things that were strange for somebody who just got an extension to say, and then ultimately, what we found out was, the deal made it more likely, not less likely, that he'd be gone after 2019."
For context, an initial report in August 2019 suggested Brady and the Patriots agreed to a two-year contract extension worth $70 million. In reality, however, the deal was more of a restructuring than an extension and didn't guarantee Brady's future in New England past the 2019 season. Sure enough, Brady hit free agency in 2020 and signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While it's too early to tell whether Belichick will take a similar path, Breer noted that the Patriots head coach is in a similar "year-to-year" situation with the team.
"I look at this pretty much the same way: If 2024 is indeed a contract year, well then they have a decision to make after this year," Breer said.
"Generally teams that have decisions to make on coaches do it before the contract year, so they don't send their coach into a lame-duck year. My assumption is the Patriots would want that as well.
"So if you look at it as, this is two-year new deal and not an extension, and he's signed through '23 and '24, then what we're talking about is the Patriots having a decision to make on their coach after this year. It is normal in the NFL to eat a year or two of a coach's contract to get rid of him if the owner desires that.
"So Robert Kraft's decision coming that we've all been waiting for on Bill Belichick after this year, that's still very much in play. I don't think the contract affects that much at all."
That means the stakes are still very high for Belichick and his 2-5 Patriots team that's in danger of missing the postseason for the third time in four years.