One of the key parts of an ESPN story detailing issues within the New England Patriots was that owner Robert Kraft ordered Bill Belichick trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Kraft tells an entirely different story to The MMQB’s Peter King.
Whereas the ESPN story said there was a long meeting between Belichick and Kraft before the trade deadline, Kraft told King that never happened. And Belichick came to Kraft with news of the Garoppolo trade and Kraft signed off on it, not the other way around. Kraft said the last time the Garoppolo situation was brought up between him and Belichick, it was in a group setting with Belichick, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft and director of player personnel Nick Caserio in June.
“I assumed once the season started, we’d talk again at the end of the season about it. The next time I spoke with Bill about it was the Monday before the trade deadline,” Kraft told The MMQB. “He called me on that Monday and said he got a deal with San Francisco, Jimmy for a second-round pick and [quarterback] Brian Hoyer. Turns out they had to cut Hoyer and then we got him. But really, this was basically a second-round pick and Brian Hoyer for Jimmy. Bill asked me if I was OK with this. I was really taken aback a little bit. I wanted to think about it. I talked to Jonathan, who was okay with it, and I called Bill back and said, ‘OK.’”
Kraft said about the part of the report that he and Belichick had a half-day meeting about the quarterback situation: “a total fabrication and fiction. I am telling you, it’s fiction.”
That’s a much, much different story than ESPN told. Seth Wickersham, the author of that piece which was the talk of the NFL world Friday (at least until Jon Gruden’s hiring by the Raiders was reported), stood by his story.
Kraft also said he “absolutely” thinks Belichick will be the coach of the Patriots next season, and said he wouldn’t consider trading Belichick to another team. There was a report from the New York Daily News that Belichick might angle to become the Giants’ head coach, but that failed to account for the fact that Belichick is under contract.
“When you’re lucky enough to have someone exceptional, you let them do their job and you get out of the way,” Kraft said, according to The MMQB.
That will satisfy the Patriots fans who have been denying the ESPN story since it came out — some even dismissed it before it came out. But Wickersham is a fantastic reporter and he says “the office was buzzing” about the meeting, which indicates others knew it happened. It’s hard to figure out how there could be two much vastly different versions of what happened. There’s not a lot of gray area between “half-day meeting” and “hadn’t talked about it between June to the end of October.”
There’s a good chance we’ll never know quite what happened this season with the Patriots, especially with how tight-lipped that franchise is. One thing we will be able to figure out relatively soon is if Kraft is way off on his prediction that Belichick will coach his team next season.
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