It’s been two decades since the New England Patriots acquired head coach Bill Belichick from the New York Jets.
To say New England won the 2000 trade would be an understatement, as the Patriots have made nine Super Bowl appearances and hoisted the Lombardi Trophy six times in Belichick’s illustrious tenure in Foxboro.
But Mike Florio argued Monday while revisiting the NFL-altering trade on its 20th anniversary that another team also benefited from Belichick landing with the Pats: the Oakland Raiders.
One might disagree considering the Raiders — now of Las Vegas residence — have long been mired in mediocrity, earning only one playoff berth since the 2002 season. Not to mention, the Patriots defeated the Raiders in the infamous “Tuck Rule” game in January 2002, kickstarting New England’s first Super Bowl run of the Belichick-Tom Brady era.
But as Florio pointed out on Pro Football Talk, the Patriots reeling in Belichick and subsequently winning a championship in just his second season with New England might have convinced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to swing a blockbuster trade with the Raiders for Jon Gruden before the 2002 campaign.
“In hindsight the team that benefited the most from the Belichick transaction, and the aftermath of it, was the Oakland Raiders, because they were able to get two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million in cash for Jon Gruden when he had one year left on his contract,” Florio said Monday. “All the Buccaneers had to do was wait a year and they would have gotten him for nothing, right? And you look at the timeline, it was right after the Belichick trade turns into a championship, and the Buccaneers were flailing to find a coach. They almost hired Bill Parcells. Think about how all these threads come together. They came close to getting Bill Parcells. Mike Tannenbaum had already taken a job with the Bucs, that’s how close it was. It all falls apart and they’re floundering around.”
Again, this is a weird case to make, especially since the Bucs won the Super Bowl in their first season with Gruden, all but justifying the king’s ransom they paid for the coach’s services. The Raiders sure seemed to make out like bandits at the time, however, as Gruden was likely to leave to following offseason, anyway.
Gruden spent seven seasons with Tampa Bay before being fired and beginning a career in broadcasting. He’s now back with the Raiders, entering the third season of his second stint after going 4-12 and 7-9 in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
“Gruden paid off immediately (for the Bucs),” Florio concluded Monday. “Belichick paid off almost immediately and over two decades, and he’s still paying off (for the Patriots).”
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