I have never wanted a division rival to be more incorrect with their sentiment towards the New England Patriots.
According to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, a rival AFC East scout thinks that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick might hang up the cleats in the near future.
"I think Brady will retire in two or three years and then Bill will follow,” the scout told Freeman. “[Belichick] won't leave football. He'll go to a front office-only role."
Brady recently signed a contract extension to keep him with the Patriots for four more seasons, through 2019, and Belichick signed a long term extension in 2013. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the duo were both up for new deals for the 2020 season.
Many have been claiming the end of the Patriots dynasty for the better part of the past decade, with those projections turning from beliefs to just wishful thinking in recent years. Brady has expressed a desire to play well into his 40s, and Belichick’s passion for the game hasn’t wavered.
Brady will continue to extend his contract every two seasons, while Belichick probably has a blank check from team owner Robert Kraft.
Let’s humor the scout, though, and say he’s right. Let’s assume that Belichick has expressed a desire to retire from coaching in order to take a front office role.
This just means that Belichick will have more time to dedicate towards optimizing team management and scouting. He would have likely told offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels about his timeline, and McDaniels would probably be thrilled to stick around for “two or three years” before becoming the Patriots head coach.
McDaniels just turned 40 this offseason and could follow up Belichick with a 20 year reign of his own (Belichick turned 48 when he took the Patriots job), with Belichick serving as the Godfather in the front office.
Maybe Jacoby Brissett isn’t the quarterback of the future, but he would be in line for the role if Brady retires in that projected frame. Heck, if Brady has told people behind the scenes that he’s going to retire in 2-3 years, keeping Jimmy Garoppolo around could even be in play since he is up for a new contract in two years.
Although on second thought, Garoppolo’s dad seemed to think there was a future for his son in New England, and that there could be a transition period. Garoppolo is just one year older than Brissett and would be just 26 or 27 if he took over.
So what if Brady and Belichick retire from their roles in two or three years? That just opens the door for Belichick to take over the front office, McDaniels or Patricia to be his groomed coaching protege, and Garoppolo to be the starting quarterback.
That opens the door for another decade of dominance. Is that what you really want, Anonymous AFC East scout?
You should be hoping that Brady and Belichick retire in four or five years, because that will mean Garoppolo, McDaniels, and Patricia are probably all out of the system because they receive better starting offers.
Off-topic, but Freeman also says the Patriots are on the three probable landing spots for pass rusher Dwight Freeney, along with the Texans and Saints. It’s no coincidence that Saints head coach Sean Payton and Texans head coach Bill O’Brien look to Belichick at a mentor and peer (Payton is actually a stem off the Bill Parcells coaching tree).
I don’t know where Freeney fits in with the Patriots, but it would require a serious injury on the defensive line. While the edge defender role for the Patriots is not yet set, some variation of Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long, and Shea McClellin will serve as the starting trio, with youngsters Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, and Rufus Johnson acting as the back-ups.
If any of those players suffer an injury and the Patriots envision both Ninkovich and McClellin as stand-up linebackers, then the door opens for Freeney. Otherwise, I don’t see it happening.