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One of the most surprising results of the NFL offseason was that, after the coaching carousel had finished spinning, longtime New England Patriots head coach and living legend Bill Belichick ended up without a job. Belichick is just 15 career wins shy of setting the NFL's all-time record, and he wanted to coach in 2024. But that didn't happen, and it apparently was not very close to happening.

Belichick, according to ESPN, finished outside the top three of the Atlanta Falcons' finalists, and that was the closest he came to landing any of the available -- or even potentially available -- head-coaching positions. Belichick apparently tried to convince owner Arthur Blank and the Falcons' front office that he was willing to just be the head coach and not have full control over the organization, but was unsuccessful and then got blindsided when the Falcons instead decided to hire former Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.

"He was essentially voted off the island," a Falcons source told ESPN.

ESPN also went through the list of the other available head-coaching positions this offseason and provided the apparent reasoning why Belichick was ultimately not the man for the job, even if he was willing to cede organizational power to the front office:

  • Philadelphia Eagles: Owner Jeffrey Lurie did not seriously consider moving on from Nick Sirianni, though he did have a conversation with Belichick where coaching for the organization did not come up. "You'll have to start over again," an Eagles source told ESPN. "Who would replace him? He hasn't had a good record of developing coaches. They were afraid that he'll have changed everything and every person, and [then] you'll be starting from scratch again. He didn't demand those changes, but they felt like, if we hire him, we have to give everything to him and trust how he does it."
  • Dallas Cowboys: Change-averse Jerry Jones decided quickly to retain Mike McCarthy.
  • Las Vegas Raiders: They had just fired two Belichick disciples and decided to retain interim head coach Antonio Pierce.
  • Los Angeles Chargers: Belichick was not interested in going to L.A., and the team quickly targeted former Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
  • Carolina Panthers: Belichick would not have been a fit with owner David Tepper, who likes to do things like going through data to critique play-calling. Carolina hired former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales.
  • Washington Commanders: Minority owner Magic Johnson lobbied for Belichick, but majority owner Josh Harris wanted to build an organizational structure similar to the one he has with the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, with a strong general manager in charge and a head coach working under the GM. The Commanders hired former Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, whose Falcons team blew a 28-3 Super Bowl lead to Belichick's Patriots.
  • Tennessee Titans: A Titans source told ESPN that Belichick's "ability to build a culture at this stage is an issue. ... He was so stubborn with the offense. He ran that offense down to a pulp. Mac Jones looked like a capable quarterback early. You think [Joe] Judge and Matt Patricia can run the offense for him? It's arrogance." Tennessee hired former Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

Another potential factor was the recommendation -- or maybe lack thereof -- that Belichick got from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Belichick apparently believes that, "Robert called Arthur [Blank] to warn him not to trust Bill," according to the ESPN report. A Kraft spokesperson denied that aspect of the report: "Robert steadfastly denies saying anything negative to Arthur Blank about Bill Belichick after Robert and Bill mutually agreed to part ways," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said, via ESPN. "In fact, Robert advocated for Bill to get the job."

Whatever Kraft said about Belichick to Blank and/or other owners, and whatever Belichick said in the interview process, it all ended with arguably the greatest coach in league history on the outside and looking in for the first time since 1974. He is expected to sign a deal with Peyton Manning's Omaha Productions and contribute in multiple ways at Omaha and ESPN, but it is unknown whether he will ever coach and reach the record for all-time regular-season wins.

One scenario where it could happen, though, is in Dallas. A friend of Belichick's told ESPN, "I don't think Bill Belichick will ever be a head coach again in the National Football League. Unless it's [for] Jerry Jones."

McCarthy is headed into the final year of his contract with the Cowboys, and the entire defensive staff under Mike Zimmer signed one-year deals as well. Dak Prescott is headed into the final year of his contract. Zack Martin is in the final year of his deal. So is Demarcus Lawrence. Even CeeDee Lamb is headed into the fifth-year option year of his rookie deal and has yet to be extended. If there is any team out there that is setting itself up for a hard reset next offseason, it's Dallas. That doesn't mean Jones will ultimately pursue Belichick, but the two are longtime friends and when he does make coaching changes, Jones indeed likes to pursue big, heavily pedigreed names. So, never say never.