Before the 2023 Patriots season kicked off, head coach Bill Belichick received a long-term contract extension from the team, according to a report Sunday from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

“Allow me to add some news,” Rapoport reported on NFL Network ahead of the Patriots’ Week 7 matchup with the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. “Sources say Bill Belichick during the offseason quietly agreed to terms on a lucrative, multi-year new contract. His contract, one of the most closely held secrets in New England. That said, I think it’s fair to say there was some, at least, uncertainty or intrigue surrounding him.

“Now, contractually, he is locked up long-term. … This at least adds some context with the Patriots committing to the greatest coach in history long-term.”

Rapoport did not definitively say New England owner Robert Kraft won’t dismiss Belichick if his 1-5 squad continues to trend downward. That remains a possibility. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer recently reported Kraft has had “discussions” about potentially moving on from Belichick, and The Athletic’s Jeff Howe published a story last week titled: “If you think Patriots owner Robert Kraft wouldn’t fire Bill Belichick, you’re wrong.”

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But Sunday’s report seemingly makes a franchise-shaking coaching change less likely. Rapoport also added that, based on his understanding, Kraft “would not be inclined to make a change midseason.”

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The Patriots entered Sunday looking to snap a three-game losing streak and avoid their first 1-6 start to a season since 1993. Losses to the heavily favored Bills this week and Miami Dolphins next week would put New England at 1-7 heading into the Oct. 31 NFL trade deadline, which could prompt it to sell off pieces for draft picks as the Patriots higher-ups shift their focus to 2024.

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Potential trade candidates for the Patriots include wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, linebacker Josh Uche, safety Kyle Dugger and guard Mike Onwenu, among others.

Belichick’s job security has been an important variable in trade deadline speculation, as the coach might not be inclined to intentionally diminish his squad’s talent if he believed he might not be back next season. Belichick needs 18 wins to break Don Shula’s all-time record for coaching victories.

Featured image via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images