Belichick, Patriots part ways on good terms after 24 years

Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft embraced during the announcement at Gillette Stadium Thursday

NBC Universal, Inc.

The New England Patriots are parting ways with head coach Bill Belichick, ending the six-time Super Bowl champion's 24-year tenure with the team, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft said Thursday.

Both men took the podium at Foxborough to make the announcement. Kraft later took questions from reporters.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

Belichick called it a day for gratitude, thanking Patriots fans, players, support staff and more for helping him along the way.

"We're gonna move on but I look forward, am excited for the future but will always be very appreciative for the opportunity here, the support here, Robert, what you've done for me. Thank you," he said, and they shook hands.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left) and departing head coach Bill Belichick embrace as they announced Belichick was leaving the team during a news conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.
Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft (left) and departing head coach Bill Belichick embrace as they announced Belichick was leaving the team during a news conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.

Kraft patted his departing head coach on the back as he took the podium and noted that the agreement was amicable: "Like a good marriage, a succcessful head coach-owner relationship requires a lot of hard work, and I'm very proud that our partnership lasted 24 years. I don't think in the NFL there has been any partnership that has lasted longer or been as productive as ours."

Both men were complimentary of each other — Kraft called him "the greatest coach of all times" and predicted that no one will match his achievements. They didn't take questions at the end of the announcement, but Kraft was expected to speak more later Thursday.

What was the world like on Jan. 27, 2000, when Bill Belichick was hired as head coach of the Patriots?

The decision had sparked a media circus, which Belichick joked about at the start of the event: "I haven't seen this many cameras since we signed [Tim] Tebow."

NBC Sports Boston's had Phil Perry confirmed in a social post Thursday morning that the Patriots were "moving on" from Belichick.

"This was the expectation, and it came as little surprise to those in the organization that it took a few days for the untangling."

Former players under Belichick -- including legends Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski -- took to social media to sing the coach's praises.

Belichick earned admiration in the sports world outside of football, too. The Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox paid tribute to the coach on social media Wednesday.

A Rhode Island artist crafted a one-of-a-kind Bill Belichick door knocker.

ESPN's Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter were first to report the news of Belichick's departure, citing league sources.

The NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and The Athletic's Chad Graff quickly chimed in as well.

Schefter also cited league sources saying that Belichick wants to keep coaching and is expected to draw interest from some of the other NFL teams with vacancies.

The New England Patriots are expected to part ways with head coach Bill Belichick on Thursday, according to multiple reports. This move will end the six-time Super Bowl champion's 24-year tenure with the team.

Who will be the Patriots next head coach?

Kraft didn't discuss his plans for Belichick's successor at the noon announcement Thursday.

Perry said Patriots linebacker coach Jerod Mayo "remains the favorite" to succeed Belichick.

Another potential candidate is former Patriots player and Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who was fired earlier this week. He was the NFL's Coach of the Year award winner in 2021 and compiled a 54-45 record in his six seasons on the job.

Was Belichick's departure a foregone conclusion?

NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran first reported in mid-December that after the Patriots' 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany, ownership had made the decision to part ways with Belichick after the season.

Speaking Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition, Curran offered an update into the Krafts' mindset in light of Belichick's end-of-season press conference Monday morning and the Tennessee Titans' firing of head coach Mike Vrabel on Tuesday.

"I think they're very methodical in the way they do things, and the fact that Mike Vrabel has kind of cannonballed into the coaching pool here, I don't know if that would necessarily cause them to alter the course of what they're planning to do," Curran said of Patriots ownership.

"So, to me, we reported a month ago that a decision had been made and the Patriots would be parting ways with Bill Belichick. That remains what I believe will happen this week (or) in the near future at least. And I believe that they will stay on the course with Jerod Mayo as the next head coach."

In his season-ending press conference on Monday morning, the 71-year-old Belichick had said he was open to letting someone else handle personnel duties if he remained with the team. He also made a point of saying he was still under contract.

When asked if he wants to stick around to fix the team's problems, the coach reiterated that he's going to do everything he can to help the team.

"That's what I've always done. Never been any different for my career. I learned that from my dad growing up. That's not going to change."

But ultimately, the decision was up to Kraft and his son, team president Jonathan Kraft. Graff reported that Kraft and Belichick "met multiple times and it was all very cordial and professional," but they chose to go in different directions.

The Patriots’ 4-13 record this season was the worst in Belichick’s 29-year NFL coaching career. Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets also marked the 178th of Belichick’s career, including the playoffs, tying him with Tom Landry for the most ever. It also tied the record of 165 regular-season losses held by Jeff Fisher and Dan Reeves.

The Patriots have the No. 3 overall pick in this year's NFL draft, and the speculation has been that they might select a quarterback given the poor performance of 2021 first-round pick Mac Jones and backup Bailey Zappe this season.

Contact Us