Bill Belichick’s future with the New England Patriots becomes murkier with each passing loss.

The Patriots could benefit from a fresh voice, which might result in Belichick’s departure this offseason, but the situation is far more complicated than that given his status as arguably the greatest coach in NFL history.

Would Patriots owner Robert Kraft really fire Belichick? If not, would he willingly resign from his position in Foxboro? A mutual parting of ways ultimately might be the best-case scenario for both parties.

Nevertheless, there’s another option, which NFL insider Jeff Howe explored Thursday in a piece for The Athletic: What if New England traded Belichick?

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Howe spoke with NFL executives, who shared their thoughts on Belichick’s potential trade value, and it’s safe to say there are mixed feelings about just how coveted the longtime Patriots coach would be if New England decided to move on this offseason. The demand, or lack thereof, obviously could affect the Patriots’ approach.

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“There is a hypothetical path to a trade that does make sense,” Howe wrote. “An owner could call Robert Kraft as soon as the season is over to gauge which way the Patriots are leaning on Belichick’s future and offer a package to expedite a split.”

This then raises the question: Which teams would consider a Belichick trade, especially if there’s a chance the Patriots fire him and he therefore becomes available to all 31 other NFL franchises?

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Howe pinpointed two potential destinations as part of such a scenario: the Carolina Panthers and the Washington Commanders.

“It’s fair to be skeptical an owner would trade for Belichick if it’s apparent he’d ultimately be fired, but consider this plausible scenario,” Howe wrote. “Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper, who already has an opening after firing Frank Reich, could get the ball rolling on the process. And then Washington Commanders owner Josh Harris could be eying a splashy first hire to sell tickets to his new fans.

“If both want Belichick badly enough — and Belichick is OK with joining either organization — a trade might make the difference in their pursuit.”

Surrendering assets — perhaps even high-end draft capital — for Belichick, 71, comes with risk for a rebuilding organization bereft of talent. After all, there’s a reason we’re even talking about this in the first place. Look at the existing state of affairs in New England.

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But a Belichick trade sure would create a ton of buzz. And maybe that’s enough for a team like the Panthers or Commanders to be aggressive and pursue a trade, rather than waiting to see if Belichick falls into their laps.

Featured image via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images