Could Commanders try to hire Bill Belichick after the season?


As the Patriots prepare to do some on-field business with the Commanders this weekend, there’s some off-field business that the two teams could be doing after the season ends.

There’s chatter in some league circles that the Commanders might attempt to essentially trade for Patriots coach Bill Belichick in 2024.

It’s not as crazy as it sounds at first blush. The Commanders, based on their recent trades of defensive ends Chase Young and Montez Sweat, seem to be closing in on a reset button under new owner Josh Harris. The Patriots could be looking for a graceful exit from Belichick’s long-term tenure.

This would allow it to happen, with the Commanders getting a great coach and the Patriots getting something for him.

A team looking for a head coach can always contact another team about hiring its current coach. The procedure is available to any team. It doesn’t get used as much as it could, or should.

In theory, the Commanders would contact the Patriots, requesting permission to speak with Belichick about the Washington job and proposing compensation for him, if a deal is reached. If the Patriots are willing to negotiate, and if the two sides reach an agreement on compensation, the Commanders would then have the ability to negotiate directly with Belichick. If an agreement between the Commanders and Belichick is reached, the Patriots would get the compensation and Belichick would become the Commanders head coach.

As a practical matter, the Commanders would know that Belichick is interested, and the Commanders would know what it would take to hire him. Then, the Commanders would initiate the process of talking to the Patriots.

This isn’t a report that it will happen. But the possibility is being discussed by people in league circles.

Don’t expect anyone to admit it, especially not anyone from the Commanders. Frankly, it’s a plan that would be pursued by ownership, after a full and complete house cleaning, from the top down.

Also, given the requirement to comply with the Rooney Rule, the Commanders can’t afford to have anyone believe a run at Belichick is inevitable. The Commanders need to go through a normal search before making a move to hire Belichick away from New England.

For the Patriots, it would be a convenient way out of a sticky situation. They wouldn’t have to fire Belichick. They wouldn’t have to engineer a “mutual parting.” They wouldn’t owe him any money. And they’d actually get back some of the compensation they gave to the Jets when hiring him in 2000.

The possibility puts the recent report of Belichick’s new lucrative, multi-year contract in a different light. It seemed to be a leak from Belichick’s camp, aimed at throwing water on the notion that he would be fired during the season. Maybe it was actually a leak from the Patriots, as a reminder to any team thinking about hiring Belichick that, to get him, they’ll have to give the Patriots whatever the Patriots decide they want.

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