Patriots owner Robert Kraft reportedly had conversations about the post-Bill Belichick direction of the franchise even before the 2023 campaign. But given New England has dropped five of its first six games and is headed toward a lost season, questions and speculation about Belichick’s immediate future have picked up.

NFL insider Albert Breer on Wednesday reported Kraft has had discussions about moving on from Belichick after the 2023 season.

“These discussions have taken place,” Breer told Colin Cowherd on “The Herd.”

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Breer shared that Kraft previously had conversations about the post-Belichick reality. Breer hinted the way things have played out not only could speed up the process but could alter Kraft’s initial thinking.

“And so the discussions of where this goes post-Belichick have been underway for a while,” Breer said. “I think regardless of where this was, like how this (season) went, I think there was going to be discussion about the structure of the franchise and potentially changing the personnel department. ‘Do we bring in a general manger (or) promote somebody to general manager and see if Bill wants to work with them?’

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“I think now we’re at the point where, is this just going to be a flat-out firing? And do they want to go forward with the current program?”

Breer specifically noted the role Patriots de-facto defensive coordinator Jerod Mayo plays in the situation. Kraft and the Patriots talked Mayo into not interviewing for the Carolina Panthers head coach position this offseason. Kraft himself previously said he wants Mayo to be the Patriots next head coach.

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Breer also acknowledged the outside critiques and criticisms the Patriots have faced from media members and fans. Kraft has heard those loud and clear, Breer said.

“And I can tell you for sure, Robert hears the criticism. He hears the anger locally. And people in the building know for a fact that he’s hearing the anger from the fanbase,” Breer said. “He’s very cognizant of where his team is in the pecking order of NFL teams, as well. They’re not a marquee team anymore and he took a lot of pride in them being a marquee team for two decades. Right up there with teams like the Cowboys, like the Eagles, like the Giants have been traditionally.

“And so I think there’s all of that that sort of plays into this.”

The resume of the 71-year-old Belichick is impossible to overlook. He helped the Patriots to six Super Bowls and it was expected he would set the NFL record for most coaching wins as a member of the Patriots. But the Patriots now look like they’ll miss the playoffs for the third time in four years and Belichick’s roster-building techniques have played a major role in that.

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Prior to the 2023 campaign, the post-Belichick era wasn’t thought to be too far away. But Kraft might have no choice but to make it even sooner than expected.

Featured image via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images