FOXBORO, Mass. — The Patriots are in a better position right now than they were last January, as they're faced with far less questions after a second consecutive early elimination from the postseason.
However, the uncertainty about the league's collective-bargaining agreement will put a lot of offseason plans on hold, and Belichick remained unsure of how to move forward. If the NFL owners and players association don't reach an agreement by the time the CBA expires March 3, the league will be in a lockout.
"There's nothing to work on," Belichick said Monday. "Right now, there's nothing to work on. Until there comes more clarification on that, there really isn't."
The only thing Belichick can prepare for in earnest is the draft, which will be held April 28-30, regardless of what happens with the CBA. However, as of Monday, Belichick couldn't line up an offseason program that usually begins with voluntary workouts at Gillette Stadium in March.
Yet, Belichick believed there could be some temporary negotiations between the two sides that could eventually allow the teams and players to set up some type of structured itinerary, even if it's only voluntary on the players' part. At the very least, Belichick is hoping for some type of interim resolution from March until the season starts, if nothing concrete is in place before then.
"My understanding is, though, that is obviously something that can be negotiated," Belichick said. "It may or may not change, so rather than trying to get too far ahead of ourselves on things like that with our current players, we'll wait and give that some time and see what exactly are the rules of the offseason and so forth, if there is not a collective-bargaining agreement. Really, all of that stuff is secondary. We'll wait and see what happens. Whatever it is, we'll deal with it then. Right now, I'd say the draft is the one thing that is pretty well-cemented in the future. We all know what the situation is on that."
Belichick has been in the league during two work stoppages — NFLPA strikes in 1982 and 1987 — so he's seen something of a similar nature before. While none of those episodes will ever truly be the same, Belichick is hoping they reach an identical resolution.
"I'd say if you are in the business long enough, that's part of it," Belichick said. "It's uncertain in that situation. I'm certain it will get resolved in time, whenever that is, at some point. In the meantime, you do what you can do. Those things are all out of my control as a coach. I don't deal with any of that."