New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft faces reporters las week in Foxborough, Mass., during a news conference held to discuss the departure of Coach Bill Belichick. Steven Senne/Associated Press

While letting go of Bill Belichick made sense given the team’s recent downward spiral, it was still a gamble for Robert Kraft.

The Patriots owner already had one strike against him after letting Tom Brady go, and seeing him win another Super Bowl his first year in Tampa.

What if Belichick does the same?

Now, there isn’t much worry about Belichick staging the same kind of Bradyesque turnaround in Carolina, Washington or Atlanta should he land with any of those teams. Those potential unions aren’t going to keep Kraft up at night.

But having his six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach wind up in Dallas will cause a few restless nights.

The Cowboys are a ready-made team. They have stars all over the lot, and that includes a quarterback. Plug in Belichick, who can certainly coach better than picking the groceries, and it’s not outlandish to think he might finally get Jerry Jones’ team over the hump.


With Dallas, the notion of Belichick winning another Super Bowl, and passing Don Shula for most all-time wins as a head coach in rather short order would legitimately be on the table.

Should it play out like that, Kraft would be saddled with the double-whammy – giving up on both Brady and Belichick too soon.

And with Belichick, it might sting Kraft even more. Jones, a rival owner who the Patriots CEO reportedly can’t fathom being in the Hall of Fame ahead of him, would reap the benefits of having Belichick.

That’s the stuff of legend, but not the type Kraft craves. Along with winning Super Bowls, the Patriots’ owner would also be known for dumping two GOATS and having it come back to bite him both times.

On Wednesday, Kraft is set to formally introduce his next head coach – Jerod Mayo. He’s about to embark on a new chapter without both Brady and Belichick.

Given Kraft’s batting average with head coaches, and instincts hiring Pete Carroll, followed by Belichick, who he shrewdly stole from the Jets for a first-round pick in 2000, it’s hard not to think Mayo will also succeed.


Kraft is so convinced Mayo is going to be a star, he had it written into the assistant coach’s contract last year that he would be the successor to Belichick. Kraft eschewed other candidates because he’s that convinced about Mayo.

If he’s right, and Mayo does turn it around in Foxborough, that would soften the blow should Belichick win elsewhere right away. But if the Patriots continue to crumble, while Belichick ascends, Kraft’s legacy would take another hit.

That’s also how it’s been for Belichick, who has only made it to the playoffs once since Brady left. If he wins at his next stop, be it Dallas or wherever, he’ll change that narrative.

Having him head to the Lone Star state sure looks like a possibility after the NFC-East division winning Cowboys got smoked by the Green Bay Packers in Dallas on Sunday. Jones has to be mulling what to do. Mike McCarthy had some terrific regular seasons with the Cowboys, but has fallen woefully short in the playoffs.

Most are expecting McCarthy won’t survive.

Jones, meanwhile, has always had a fondness for Belichick after an impromptu meeting at a ski resort in Colorado in 1995. The Cowboys’ owner relayed that story to a Dallas sports station in 2019, how impressed he was with Belichick nearly 30 years ago.


Belichick returned the compliment.

“Jerry and the Jones’ family have always been great to me, always had a great relationship with them,” Belichick said soon after the ski story was revealed. Even this past season, Belichick praised Jones once again before the Patriots took on the Cowboys in October.

“I have a ton of respect for Jerry and Stephen (Jones), and the way they run the organization down there. They’ve had decades of success,” Belichick said. “They were really the team of the 90s with Jimmy (Johnson) and they’ve been good. They’ve been competitive every year, obviously more than competitive. They’ve had a lot of great players down there. Tony (Romo) had a great run. Those are great years there with Tony, Coach (Bill) Parcells. We played them here in the early 2000s, but I always keep an eye on them, just the way they do things.”

He may be doing more than that once Jones decides what to do with McCarthy.

Of course, Kraft had to weigh the possibility of Belichick moving on, and winning with another team when making his own decision.

He probably wasn’t expecting Dallas to emerge. He didn’t anticipate the possibility of Belichick landing with Jones.


No doubt Belichick, who has already met with Arthur Blank and the Falcons about their opening, will be motivated to win and stick it to Kraft wherever he goes. If Jones does fire McCarthy and pursue the former Patriots coach, Belichick would have to surrender the type of control he had in New England. He wouldn’t necessarily be picking the groceries or have total control.

That might not be the worst thing. Andy Reid had Belichick-type power with the Philadelphia Eagles, but is focused on coaching alone in Kansas City. He’s still consulted on personnel, but not as heavily involved as he was with the Eagles.

The Falcons have some good young talent and play in a winnable division. They just don’t have a quarterback.

Patriots Hall of Famer Rodney Harrison believes Belichick will get rejuvenated coaching another team whether it’s Dallas, Atlanta or whoever.

“When I left the Chargers, one part of me didn’t think there was another side of football. Because I only knew one side,” Harrison told MassLive. “Then when I was able to experience the other side, which was the Patriots, it opened up my entire world. It sparked me and gave me energy. Something like that can do the same with Coach Belichick.”

That could very well happen with America’s Team, much to Kraft’s dismay.

Comments are no longer available on this story