The trade deadline came and passed Tuesday, which sucks for Bill Belichick, because the timing of the deadline meant he was forced to trade Jamie Collins to the Browns before his weekly Wednesday press conference. So, on Wednesday, Belichick was forced to field questions about a decision that is lacking clear answers.
Why did Belichick trade away one of his best defensive players during a season in which his team has a legitimate chance to bring home a championship trophy? It's a fair question -- even if you agree with his decision.
But when Patriots' beat reporters tried to get an answer to that question, they were shut down.
Take a look at how his press conference started, via the Patriots' website:
Q: Do you have any follow up to your initial comments on the Jamie Collins trade?
BB: I really don't have much to add, Tom [Curran]. I've already talked about it. We did what we felt like was best for the team and that was really it.
Q: Mike Lombardi had some comments about Jamie Collins' effort at times.
BB: Well you should ask Mike [Lombardi] about whatever Mike said or whatever anyone [said]. I'm sure everybody had something to say, so go talk to them. I don't know.
Q: I'm asking because of Mike Lombardi's history with this organization as a former assistant to the coaching staff and wondering if his feelings echo the sentiment within the organization.
BB: I expressed my feelings. I think other coaches have expressed their feelings. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that have an opinion, so talk to them. Go talk to them. I don't care.
Q: Why did you feel like it was better to trade Jamie Collins now rather than let him walk in free agency and receive an equally valuable compensatory pick through that route?
BB: Yeah, well I don't agree with that assessment, but regardless, we did what we did.
Intermission: My favorite lines so far are ...
- "I'm sure everybody had something to say, so go talk to them."
- "I expressed my feelings."
- "I don't care."
OK, back to the transcript:
Q: Why do you feel like your team as currently constituted is well-equipped to move on without a player like Jamie Collins?
BB: Well again, that's a much longer conversation. I summed it up and that's the summary of it.
Q: Has the play of Elandon Roberts and the other linebackers made you feel more comfortable in trading a guy like Jamie Collins?
BB: Again, we've already covered it. I mean it's a bottom-line decision. That's what it was. I'm not going to talk about the 500 things that could be talked about relative to it. It's just too long, too cumbersome of a conversation.
Q: Are you referring to your Monday radio appearance as when you've previously discussed the topic of the trade?
Q: We as the beat reporters feel we should have a shot at asking some of those questions as well.
BB: I understand that. Look, the transcript is the transcript, Tom [Curran]. It is what it is. I'll restate it -- let's read the transcript. We can restate it if that's what you want to do. Nothing has happened between Monday and Wednesday morning.
Q: We try to do a good job asking our own specific questions and having our shot at the topic.
BB: Absolutely. Well, I'm telling you the same thing I said on Monday. Nothing has changed.
My favorite line:
- "It's just too long, too cumbersome of a conversation."
OK so ... while I understand Belichick's reluctance to talk about the trade in detail, I also understand why beat reporters feel as if they have the right to ask him. After all, it is their job to ask him to explain a very important and surprising decision he made that will have both short-term and long-term consequences.
And I can only imagine how frustrating it is from the reporters' perspective to hear about how it's "too cumbersome of a conversation" to have with them. In the past, Belichick's been happy to talk in depth about certain topics, and there's no doubt that listening to Belichick extensively explain the trade from his perspective would be fascinating, even if that talk took hours. I'm guessing most reporters would welcome that conversation. But that's never going to happen.
On the other hand, Grumpy Belichick is national treasure. So, really, I'm pretty split here.
Meanwhile, while we all focus on the Patriots' decision to part ways with one of their best players, it's worth wondering why the Browns gave up a draft pick for a player who might leave in free agency after the season. Just don't expect Belichick to provide an answer to that question.