All’s well that ends well, so if the New England Patriots once again hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February, this will all seem pointless.
But the Patriots are entering the 2018 season on the heels of the most tenuous offseason of the Robert Kraft/Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era. After reports of discontent and a Super Bowl loss marked the end of the 2017 season, there were hopes the trio would come together in the offseason and get on the same page.
It seems, perhaps unsurprisingly, that not much has changed with training camp a week away.
From The Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard: “According to multiple sources, nothing has been hashed out between the three of them, at least at this time. That could certainly change as they come off vacation and ready for the season. But sources say the more likely scenario is that things are worked out slowly during camp — or not at all.
“Belichick continues to be irritated that Kraft has increasingly interjected himself into areas that were largely Belichick’s domain during his tenure with the Patriots. That includes the owner’s deference to Brady and his role in the retention of Josh McDaniels.”
That there’s still lingering tension probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Brady skipped the Patriots’ optional offseason workouts amid reports about his desire for a new contract. He did attend mandatory minicamp, where he offered a half-hearted defense of his relationship with Belichick despite reports indicating Brady was leading the pushback. He also had some eye-opening comments throughout the offseason, highlighted by him “pleading the Fifth” when he was asked whether he felt appreciated by the Patriots.
But it’s worth mentioning that winning often cures a lot of these issues, and the Patriots once again are poised for a big season and another deep run. And, as pointed out by Bedard, it’s not like the Patriots’ dynastic run was devoid of behind-the-scenes tension before last season.
Still, it’s a lingering cloud that will hang above the team at least early on. Whether the trio can resolve its issues or successful coexist in spite of them will be one of the most fascinating storylines of the offseason.