As the New England Patriots continue to mull over coach Bill Belichick’s future with the franchise, one question quickly emerged in light of recent events: Will they go after free agent coach Mike Vrabel?
But the Tennessee Titans’ sacking of coach Vrabel won’t factor into owner Robert Kraft’s impending decision on Belichick, according to ESPN insider Mike Reiss.
Reiss said on Wednesday’s episode of Get Up!, “My strong sense from talking to people around the Patriots organization is that any decision on Belichick is completely independent of Vrabel’s sudden availability.”
Vrabel was fired by the Titans on Tuesday in a move that sent shockwaves across the league. The 48-year-old coach led the Titans to four straight winning seasons early in his tenure; however, Tennessee finished with back-to-back losing campaigns in the last two years and failed to make the playoffs.
Vrabel, who was named Coach of the Year just two years ago, has strong ties to the Patriots organization having played in New England from 2001—2008, winning three Super Bowls during his time there.
Reiss nonetheless threw cold water on the Vrabel—Patriots rumors and believed the ex-Titan was a “wild card” in any potential coaching discussions in Foxborough.
“It isn’t like they say, ‘Oh my goodness Mike Vrabel’s there, we’ve gotta move on a Belichick decision.’ Step back, big picture. Team owner Robert Kraft is 82 years old. It’s hard to imagine that he hasn’t thought of potential succession plans for Bill Belichick. So I’d say this: Vrabel’s a wild card in the whole discussion. But it would be aggressive to me to say he suddenly shoots to the top of any succession plan list.”
On Black Monday, Belichick bluntly said he was still “under contract” with the team and declined to make any certain comments about his future.