Patriots Owner Robert Kraft May Have Just Put Bill Belichick on Notice

Kraft, 80, is not happy the NFL team he has owned since 1994 has not won a postseason game in three years

Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick before a game against the Dolphins
Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick before a game against the Dolphins.
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Since Robert Kraft bought the New England Patriots in 1994, his team has not had four consecutive seasons without winning a playoff game. And, even more amazingly, his team has not gone four consecutive seasons without playing in the Super Bowl.

Winless in the postseason in the past three seasons after last winning a playoff game with a victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII with Tom Brady at quarterback, Kraft’s team will see both of the above streaks snapped if the Patriots don’t advance to the final game of the NFL season in February. Should that happen, the 80-year-old billionaire owner of New England’s football team may decide that making Bill Belichick the highest-earning coach in the NFL and the highest-paid coach in all of U.S. sports is no longer worth it.

Kraft moving on from 69-year-old Belichick, who has coached the team since 2000 and is also in charge of personnel moves, just a few years removed from letting Brady leave New England for nothing would be a startling turn of events, but it does seem like a possibility based on comments the longtime owner made while speaking to the media on Tuesday at the NFL’s annual meetings.

“I’m a Patriot fan, big time, first. More than anything, it bothers me that we haven’t been able to win a playoff game in the last three years,” Kraft said, per ESPN. “After my family, there’s nothing more important to me than the New England Patriots and winning football games. That’s my passion, so whatever I can do — hopefully in a small way to make that happen — I’m there. I’m not happy that we haven’t won a playoff game in three years. I think about that a lot.”

After failing to make the playoffs in the team’s first post-Brady season in 2020, the Patriots rebounded with a 10-7 record in the regular season after spending a then-record $163 million in guaranteed money on free agents last offseason. That massive payout failed to pay dividends as the Patriots were thumped 47–17 in the first round of the playoffs by the Bills in Buffalo in a game that was not really competitive after the first quarter.

Since that loss, there have been rumblings that Belichick has lost his fastball and many have pointed out that his stellar record as a head coach may have been directly tied to having Brady as his quarterback. After two decades of winning and six Super Bowl victories, Belichick has likely earned himself a little bit of wiggle room and is fair to expect some ups and downs as second-year quarterback Mac Jones goes through growing pains in the upcoming season. But, given Belichick’s track record, salary and spending spree last offseason, Kraft is also expecting his team to be real contender. “I expect it to happen as soon as this year,” he said. “I think we had a period of two decades that were unbelievable with a salary cap. We have to find a way to sustain it and keep it going.”

If they don’t, owners don’t fire themselves, so Kraft isn’t going anywhere. Crazy as it sounds, the same can’t be said for Belichick.

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