Bill Belichick addresses conspiracy theory that he 'screwed' NY Jets in 2023 draft

Did Belichick intentionally mess with the Jets?
Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick / JOSEPH PREZIOSO/GettyImages

The NY Jets sent now-former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick into semi-retirement — or at least out of Foxborough — when they defeated the Patriots in Week 18 this past January.

While the game dropped the Jets a few spots in the draft order, it was a momentary piece of revenge for the decades of torment Belichick put his former employer through. That torment extended beyond the gridiron.

When the Patriots traded down with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2023 NFL Draft, allowing the Steelers to come up and select offensive tackle Broderick Jones one spot before the Jets, many immediately suggested Belichick's hatred of his former team may have been a factor.

Some speculated that Belichick intentionally "screwed" the Jets because he knew the Steelers would draft the player New York wanted. A year later, the now-former Patriots coach was asked about that draft-day trade in an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday.

So did he do it? Did Belichick intentionally mess with is former team? You be the judge.

"“We only traded back a couple of spots. We were pretty confident that the Steelers were looking for a tackle and we were pretty confident that the Jets weren’t going to take a corner because they had taken [Sauce] Gardner the year before. So, we kinda thought that both teams were looking for the same thing. Of course, we didn’t know that the Steelers were going to take the guy the Jets wanted, but I wouldn’t say we weren’t heartbroken that happened. That’s the way it goes.”"

Bill Belichick

Did Bill Belichick intentionally mess with the NY Jets in the 2023 draft?

Belichick claims his decision to trade down was primarily because he knew the Steelers and Jets would not be selecting a cornerback. The player they had in mind was Oregon's Christian Gonzalez, who the Patriots did end up selecting at No. 16 overall.

Belichick was right in his assertion. The Jets were never going to draft Gonzalez given that they had both Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. If anything, the Steelers likely wanted to jump the Jets because they believed New York was looking to draft Jones.

There were rumors swirling shortly following the 2023 draft that, despite their obvious need for an offensive tackle, the Jets didn't intend to draft Jones at pick No. 15. Will McDonald was the top player on their board.

So, Belichick didn't necessarily "screw over" his former team. Although if he did, he certainly doesn't seem to be regretful of that decision. Call it a happy coincidence, I suppose.

The Jets still remain high on McDonald's potential, although the former Iowa State star played the fewest offensive or defensive snaps of any first-round pick in the 2023 draft. Jones, on the other hand, started 11 games as a rookie and is locked in as a starter going into 2024.

As for Belichick, he was unable to land another head coaching job this offseason and will wait to see if a return to the NFL is in the cards next year. Here's to hoping he stays far away from the Jets.