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Robert Kraft: Bill Belichick earned the right to leave without compensation

Patriots owner Robert Kraft took no questions during his joint media appearance with former Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Later in the day, Kraft returned to the podium to answer various inquiries from reporters.

Kraft was asked among other things whether he considered trying to trade Belichick to another team, in order to secure some compensation for the greatest coach in NFL history.

"That's an interesting question," Kraft said. "I’m fortunate in our family, our businesses are all private, and so we try to create a culture and develop an environment where people want to stay and stay long term. And, I guess if you look at this as a transaction, he is so valuable. In how we could extract something, I didn't think that was right. I didn't think it was right for Tom Brady, who gave us 20 years, and I don't think it's right for Bill.

"But I think each of them earned the right to be in a position where they should do what's right for them, given what they have done for this franchise. So, some people might criticize me for not extracting as much value, and I understand that, but we just try to do what we think is right for the proper values and ability to operate and try to get people who want to come and feel that we're going to treat them fairly."

It's a great way to approach such situations. That said, it also would have been very difficult to pull something like this off, given that Belichick had no reason to go along with a cake-and-eat-it effort to move on from him and to get something for him. And it would have taken too long for things to play out, putting the Patriots way behind in the search for a replacement.

While that could have been countered by an effort to line up through backchannels the ultimate successor even before Belichick was traded, that's a dangerous game to play, given that the league office would be inclined to swoop in and punish anyone who was caught breaking like rules — like they did two years ago when the Dolphins were caught trying to line up Sean Payton and Tom Brady.

So the end result is that Belichick is free and clear. It's also possible that Kraft is free and clear of any buyout obligation, with both sides walking away and starting over.

If that's what actually happened, it's absolutely the right outcome.