Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Crazy as it sounds, Bill Belichick is unlikely to coach in the NFL in the 2024 season. It will be the first time since the 1974 season that Belichick has not been with an NFL team.

But sources tell CBS Sports not to count the GOAT out for 2025. There remains a desire for Belichick to return to the sidelines … he just has to do it on his terms.

The Atlanta Falcons are the only known team to have interviewed Belichick this cycle, and Thursday they agreed to terms with Raheem Morris to be their next head coach. This came after two in-person interviews with Belichick, who laid out his plan and vision for Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

The Falcons decided they could live without Belichick, who certainly would have changed things within the building. As one Falcons source put it, there would have been “a groundshake” with Belichick coming to town. Football people would have been reassigned or fired. Business people would have had to change how, where and when they do their jobs.

That’s how the soon-to-be 72-year-old Belichick wants to run his ship, and Blank decided that’s not what he wants for his franchise. And with Belichick believed to be a short-timer wherever he goes — sources gave him a four-year maximum anywhere — the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.

“He was going to be picky anyway,” a source familiar with Belichick said. “He needs someone to give him total control.”

And that’s why waiting could work out for Belichick. Though it’s true he’s not getting any younger, it is certainly possible — if not probable — that the appetite for Belichick across the league will grow over the next year.

The last five hiring cycles have produced 35 new head coach opportunities, or nearly eight a year. This year there were eight openings exactly, and so one can predict a similar turnover next year. That means a quarter of the league will be so disgusted by their lot in the NFL that they’ll be firing their coach and looking for someone new to lead them.

Would one or more of those teams desire Belichick at that point? He would have spent a year assembling a strong coaching staff. A year of intrigue and speculation would have only increased his mythical powers. His presence on the sideline would absolutely sell season tickets.

And everyone who watches football may see him regularly during the 2024 season anyway.

Several sources believe a stint in television could be in Belichick’s future. He’s done television both locally in New England and nationally, and he’s regarded as one of the foremost football historians today.

His knowledge is unequaled, and TV networks would vie for his services.  

“Every network would want him,” said one media agent. “He would revolutionize media with the way he prepares.”

That agent said Belichick would be better in studio than in an announcers booth. His voice presence “isn’t big enough” on a game call, according to the agent, but a studio would suit him well.

A TV gig would keep Belichick in front of NFL fans every week and, more importantly, in front of NFL owners. That’s what Sean Payton did at Fox during his year off in 2022, and Belichick could easily do the same this year.

Belichick needs 15 wins to break Don Shula’s record for all-time wins, and he’ll likely need two seasons to get it done. After a year off in 2024, it’s possible Belichick wouldn’t get that record until 2026 when he’s 74 years old.

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