Bill Belichick said Monday he “absolutely” plans to coach the New England Patriots next season.
And Stephen A. Smith “absolutely” believes him.
ESPN published a report last Friday chronicling a supposed power struggle involving Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and team owner Robert Kraft, which has led to some speculation as to whether this could be Belichick’s final season in New England. The trio downplayed the report, with Belichick making it clear he has no intentions of leaving, and Smith and Max Kellerman both agreed Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take” that Kraft just needs to open the checkbook to make sure his head coach stays.
“I absolutely believe Bill Belichick because I believe in Robert Kraft,” Smith said. “I think he is the class of the NFL. I think that the Patriots are the standard, much to the chagrin of this guy Carlton from Tampa that calls to my radio show every day … ”
“Here’s the deal: If you are Robert Kraft, the Patriots are the gold standard. Look at this organization. And I’m just looking at Belichick in 17 seasons: five Super Bowl championships, seven conference titles, 10 trips to the AFC Championship Game, 14 division crowns, 25 playoff victories, has never lost more than seven games in a season since Tom Brady has been his quarterback.”
Belichick sure has pulled the right strings in New England, starting with when he opted for Brady over Drew Bledsoe back in 2001. Maybe he wanted to keep Brady’s former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Kraft mandated a trade — as last week’s ESPN report stated and Kraft since has denied — but there’s simply no denying Belichick’s importance to the Patriots.
“Bill Belichick runs this organization, and he does it so exceptionally well (that) Robert Kraft — being the winner that he is, being the complete antithesis of (Dallas Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones — is not going to get in the way,” Smith said. “He is going to sit there and he is going to say, ‘This man is the biggest reason why we are as successful as we are. We are not going to upset this apple cart. If we’ve got coaches getting paid $7.5 to $8 million or whatever the case may be, you trying to tell me I can’t take Bill Belichick’s $7 million salary and bump that up to $11 (million) or $12 million?’
“If that’s what Robert Kraft has to do, he will do it.”
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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