The three men most responsible for turning the New England Patriots into a perennial power will wait until after the season to settle any differences, according to a report Saturday.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft will sit down with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady to “clear the air” of any lingering tensions, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported.
Reigning Super Bowl champion New England was set to host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in an AFC divisional round playoff game.
The report comes a week after the Patriots denied there was friction among the trio, which reportedly stemmed from a dispute over the trade of backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco earlier this season.
According to ESPN, which cited unnamed sources, Belichick was furious and demoralized when Kraft sided with Brady on the decision to trade Garoppolo, who won all five starts with the 49ers.
Among the issues noted in the ESPN report were how the three men “differ on Brady’s trainer, body coach and business partner Alex Guerrero; over the team’s long-term plans at quarterback; over Belichick’s bracing coaching style; and most of all, over who will be the last man standing.”
The team disputed several aspects of ESPN’s report, citing “several inaccuracies,” and sent out a statement in which Kraft, Belichick and Brady said, “We stand united.”
Both Kraft and Belichick responded “absolutely” to questions of whether the coach will be back for the 2018 season.
Kraft, Belichick and Brady have been together since 2000, and been instrumental in a dominant run by the franchise. New England has won five Super Bowl championships in the past 16 seasons and captured the AFC East title in 14 of the past 15 years