The cycle of sports media in 2018 is pretty obvious if you take a step back and watch a story unfold. For example, the "Nick Saban to the Giants" story that percolated this week was started by a quote from Bruce Arians on a radio show that rampantly unfolded into speculation about what Saban might do in the future. It's not unfounded, because of his reported recent flirtations with the NFL and the nature of the Giants job. Arians was just talking though. 

Seeing how things progressed with the Patriots "tensions" story is another good example. First there's the initial report about turmoil, then there's plenty of people advancing the story in different ways. Eventually everyone starts to ask if, should Bill Belichick be so unhappy in New England that he would leave, where he would go?

No joke: the Giants (Belichick used to coach there and loves the franchise), Lions (Bob Quinn, the GM, came from New England, and he got his first NFL job there) and the Titans (Belichick was born in Nashville!) were all floated as possible landing spots for the 65-year-old coach. 

It's not happening. Nevermind the Patriots vehemently denied rumors of friction and the relationship between Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft. Belichick isn't giving up the routine and control he maintains in New England to go start over somewhere else, just because there might be friction about who gets the credit for the Patriots dynasty. 

Plus, there's also the matter of Belichick not being able to leave. No one knows the full details of Belichick's contract, but it seems fair to guess he is under contract for longer than the next few months. If Belichick is leaving, it's because he wants out but also because Kraft is going to extract some insane amount of value in exchange for the Patriots coach.

So what would Belichick be worth in a hypothetical trade scenario? 

According to one NFL executive, speaking anonymously to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, Kraft could ask for "three No. 1 draft picks" in exchange for Belichick. 

That seems ... steep. And talking about a trade is pretty wild, but consider that Jon Gruden, who was once traded from the Raiders to the Buccaneers, just returned to coach the Raiders, being introduced to an obscene amount of fanfare almost 20 years to the day he was last introduced as the Raiders head coach. 

When Gruden was dealt, he was 38 years old. The Bucs gave up two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million in cash to get Gruden, who would win them a Super Bowl in his first year. Gruden was fired after the 2008 season, meaning the Bucs gave up all of that for seven years of Gruden.

Belichick is 65, but he's not even the oldest coach in the NFL. It is very reasonable to assume he's got seven years of coaching left in him. There are actually people who still debate whether it's Belichick or Brady who is responsible for the Patriots unprecedented run of success. It's an absurd argument; the combination of the greatest coach of all-time and the greatest quarterback of all-time landing with the same franchise is how five Super Bowls get won in a 17-year span. Brady doesn't do it himself and Belichick doesn't do it himself either. 

But each of them would have tremendous success elsewhere. If a team was willing to give up three first-round picks for Belichick, it's going to make Kraft at least think about it. Myers floated the idea of the Giants offering this year's second-round pick (No. 34), a first-round pick next year and a second- and fourth-round pick in 2020. That's not getting it done for Belichick, not when the Patriots still have a window with Brady on the roster to win Super Bowls. Regardless of age, the Pats are going to want a "Gruden offer" -- minus the cash -- for Belichick in this hypothetical situation. A first- and second-round pick in 2018 and a first- and second-round pick in 2019 maybe makes it happen.  

And the problem for anyone willing to actually trade those picks is it could completely disrupt the front office. John Mara just fired his coach and GM during the 2017 season, only to replace Jerry Reese with Dave Gettleman. Is he really going to thrust Belichick on Gettleman and ask the two to play nicely in the same sandbox, especially without a bunch of draft picks?

The reality is it would take a massive offer, the perfect situation and a willingness on the Patriots behalf to actually trade Belichick. Even if the first two came together, the third is the longest shot of all. Belichick isn't going anywhere, as fun as it might be to imagine a scenario.