Seth Wickersham, Senior Writer for ESPN, dropped an absolute bombshell of a report Friday morning, that reveals the underlying insecurities, competing egos, and strained relationships that threaten to dismantle one of the greatest sports dynasties in history. This will only bode well for the New York Jets in the future.
The report, which touts “more than a dozen interviews with New England Patriots staffers, players, and executives with knowledge of the team’s inner-workings,” has caused major waves in the sports media landscape since hitting the web Friday morning; with shocking revelations abound in the report, it is no surprise why.
The Patriots, for what seems like a lifetime now, have reigned atop the NFL due to the potent pairing of Bill Belichick, arguably one of the greatest coaches of all-time, and Tom Brady, arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. They have shared more success than any NFL coach and player could ever dream of, or even possibly hope to achieve.
With this shared success, you would think that harmony, cohesion, and a shared vision would be the keys. However, with success comes ego, and when you have two men like Brady and Belichick, seen as the personifications of hard work and dedication (sorry, Floyd Mayweather), the credit for such success is going to be a hotly debated point.
So, without further ado, let’s go over the most interesting points of the article, and how the fallout from the article could affect the future of the Jets-Pats rivalry for years to come.
Next: Could Belichick Be On His Way Out?
Could Belichick Be On His Way Out?
One of the more explosive parts of the Wickersham report covers the baffling trade that shocked the NFL at the end of October, which saw the Patriots sending their heir-apparent at QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, to the San Francisco 49ers for just a 2nd round pick.
Getting Garoppolo for a 2nd is one of the great steals in NFL trade history.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) October 31, 2017
Patriots should have traded Jimmy G for a bonanza of pick last offseason. Noted as much in realtime, then. Was no way keeping him/bady in 18
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 31, 2017
The trade was shocking then, but now, in light of the Wickersham report, it is even more shocking. The report details the power struggle behind the scenes that eventually ended in Belichick being forced to trade Jimmy G. That’s right, FORCED. These excerpts from the report detail how it went down:
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) January 5, 2018
The story essentially goes like this: Tom wants to play until he’s 85 years old; Tom doesn’t like that Jimmy is drafted as the heir-apparent; Tom eventually goes to Robert Kraft to talk about playing forever; Bill goes to Kraft to talk about the QB situation; Kraft lays down the mandate to trade Jimmy and just draft the next great QB (Patriot problems, amirite?); Belichick does his job and trades Jimmy; and there was much rejoicing from the Brady camp.
“That’s great, Sean, but what does this mean for the Jets?” Well, let’s get to the hottest part of this situation. Belichick is a man who has built a team in his image for his tenure with the Patriots. He makes the football decisions, puts the product on the field, and takes responsibility for all the successes and failures of the team. So, how does Bill react when a football decision is taken out of his hands?
The biggest takeaway of the Patriots article was the tidbit that people close to Belichick said that he would quit if ownership ever got involved in football decisions. That's certainly what happened with the Jimmy G trade.
— Mike (@MHC_76) January 5, 2018
WOAH! If true, it is entirely possible that this incident could signal the last year of Bill’s tenure with the Patriots. As if that weren’t enough, there are tons of reports that both Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator for the Pats, and Matt Patricia, the defensive coordinator, are receiving interview requests from multiple teams around the league. Both McDaniels and Patricia have bodies of work that are more than worthy of head coaching positions in the league. Could it be possible that the Patriots could lose their head coach, their offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator in one fell swoop? If so, the Patriots future would be in shambles, and their dynasty, surely over.
Rumors are already swirling about Belichick skipping town, and heading south to New Jersey. It is widely known that Bill has immense respect for the Giants organization. In the NFL Network episode of “A Football Life,” dedicated to Belichick, one scene shows him getting emotional when walking through the old Meadowlands Stadium. Could this be the end that Belichick wants? Bringing a franchise he highly respects, one that he lost two Super Bowls to, back to the Promised Land? Apparently, sources close to Bill think so.
— NY Daily News Sports (@NYDNSports) January 6, 2018
This would have huge implications for the Jets, possibly dismantling our greatest rivalry. Unfortunately, it just means we’d be losing to the Giants in the Super Bowl, instead of the Pats in the playoffs. Will we ever get a break from this guy?
Next: Uncertain Future at QB
Uncertain Future at QB
Yes, on his way to possibly another Super Bowl appearance, Brady is looking like an ageless wonder. But we all know he can’t carry on like this forever. Will the Pats’ decision to trade Garoppolo for next to nothing come back to bite them in the long run?
When Brady went to Kraft to lay out his case for playing until he looks like the Crypt-Keeper, he must have said something pretty darn convincing. For Kraft to force Belichick to trade away a QB, whom most inside the Patriots’ facility believed to be a future top-10 player, Brady had to lay out exactly how he feels his future in these coming years will unfold.
While Kraft obviously felt good about whatever was said in their meeting, this certainly wasn’t option one in his owner’s playbook. Another interesting tidbit of the Wickersham article details some failed contract extension talks between the Pats and Jimmy G.
The article also mentions that Garoppolo and his agent, Don Yee, turned down multiple extension offers in the $17/$18 million range, but no explanation why.
On the surface, seems like Garoppolo was betting on himself — for THIS coming payday.
— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) January 5, 2018
Boy did we dodge a bullet here, Jet fans! As per the Wickersham report, Jimmy’s agent, Don Yee, turned down multiple extension offers, offers which would have increased in base pay whenever Jimmy became the guy in New England. Thankfully for us, Jimmy had enough of waiting in the ranks and wanted to be the guy somewhere else.
As Garoppolo is now 7-0 as a starter, with five of those wins coming after being traded late in the season to an abysmal 49ers team, it is my firm belief that had Jimmy stayed on the Pats, he would have picked up right where Tom left off. We would have been given no time to exhale after watching Brady go, because Jimmy would have come right in, and continued the torment.
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Now, as we evaluate the Pats’ roster, it’s okay to feel a glimmer of hope. With Tom set to be 41 before the beginning of the next regular season, and the Patriots trading away both of their possible future starting QBs to the Colts and 49ers, they are expected to have quite the void in the QB room soon.
Now, it’s possible that the Patriots will look to the draft again, and find the next great QB, and we’ll be right back to square one. But, if Belichick is gone after the year, who will be picking that QB? Without the genius mind of Belichick making those picks, the chances of the Pats landing that next great QB decrease quite a bit.
So, could this be it? Could this be the year the Pats’ dynasty comes crumbling down? Could Robert Kraft find himself looking for a new HC, OC, DC, and QB? Could the Patriots’ reign atop the AFC East come to an end, leaving a void at the top for a team like, dare I say, the Jets? The same team that is rebuilding the right way to be the team to beat in the division?
One thing is for sure. This report should hold no bearing on anything the Jets do in the coming offseason. But, if Johnson, Macc, and Bowles keep their heads down, and keep grinding to bring this team to its potential, the AFC East landscape could look a lot different when they eventually pick their heads up.