As the end of the season creeps closer, and with it quite possibly the end of Bill Belichick's time in New England, the question becomes whether one or more other teams will make a beeline for Belichick.
Five years ago, they likely would have been lined up out the door. Now, there could still be a clamoring for one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. And, ultimately, all it takes is one team to provide a landing spot.
The folks at JoeBucsFan.com have been discussing on Ira Kaufman’s podcast the possibility of the Buccaneers being the ones to make a move. Here are a few points they have raised.
First, G.M. Jason Licht worked for Belichick in New England, and they remain on good terms.
Second, Licht is a survivor. His successful pursuit of Bruce Arians in 2020 might have saved Licht's bacon. It also helped (along with the signing of Brady) deliver a Super Bowl win.
Third, Licht and Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien (per the Kaufman podcast) have the same agent. There were rumors, accurate per the Kaufman podcast, of the Bucs trying to hire O'Brien in the recent past. (Of course, O'Brien might not be the target, now that Josh McDaniels is available.)
Fourth, Bucs ownership has had a fascination with big-name coaches. They thought they had Bill Parcells in 2002. When he bailed out, they made the all-in trade for Jon Gruden. Per the Kaufman podcast, they've wanted in the past names like Bill Cowher and Chip Kelly.
And it was Belichick who recommended Greg Schiano more than a decade ago. (That should actually count against Bill, frankly.)
Would it work? It depends on how "work" is defined. Winning games and making money are two different things. Having Belichick could restore the Brady-style relevance to the Buccaneers, securing higher-profile games as the second iteration of a Pats-to-Pirates experiment focuses on whether Belichick can get it done in a new town with a new team.
The Buccaneers might not be alone in such thoughts. Other teams might be willing to roll the dice on making a run at Belichick. Which brings us back to the point made in Wednesday's #PFTPM.
How will the Patriots and Belichick end it? And will someone discreetly arrange before the season concludes an eventual trade for the ability to employ Belichick?
We'll likely never know that it was pre-baked. We'll definitely know if and when it happens.