Robert Kraft reportedly warned Falcons owner Arthur Blank not to trust Bill Belichick during head coach interviews

One of the biggest surprises of the NFL offseason was Bill Belichick's inability to find a job. He has 333 wins and six Super Bowl rings over nearly 30 seasons of head coaching. And yet, as the 2024 season gets underway with voluntary OTAs across the NFL, Belichick remains unemployed.

One man might have more to do with that than anyone else: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

According to an ESPN report from Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler, a conversation Kraft had with Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank was the main reason the Falcons passed on Belichick as head coach and went with Raheem Morris instead.

The Falcons were the only team that really engaged with Belichick during the hiring portion of the offseason. Every other team with a head coach opening passed on him, not even offering him an interview. But the Falcons appeared to be serious about Belichick — or at least Blank was. He reportedly had two lengthy interviews with Belichick on his megayacht.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (R) and Patriots owner Robert Kraft speak to reporters where Belichick announced he is leaving the team during a press conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on January 11, 2024. Belichick, the NFL mastermind who has guided the New England Patriots to a record six Super Bowl titles as head coach, is parting ways with the team after 24 seasons. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
Patriots owner Robert Kraft reportedly told Falcons owner Arthur Blank not to trust Bill Belichick, leading Blank to hire a different head coach. (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)

But as Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported after the Falcons hired Morris, one of the crossroads with Belichick was the element of realignment needed to maximize his hire, i.e. giving him the power to make decisions on football operations, personnel and coaching. Belichick's candidacy also wasn't popular within the organization, according to ESPN; when Blank asked his top executives to rank all the job candidates, Belichick didn't finish in the top three.

And when Blank reached out to Kraft, one of his his closest friends among all NFL team owners, for advice about hiring Belichick, Kraft reportedly gave him numerous reasons to back off and go in a different direction. Via ESPN:

But in a conversation with Blank, Kraft delivered a stark assessment of Belichick's character, according to a source who spoke to two people: a close Kraft friend and a longtime Belichick confidant. The source quoted the Belichick source as saying, "Robert called Arthur to warn him not to trust Bill." That account was backed up, the source said, by the close Kraft friend.

Multiple sources said that Kraft spoke with "some candor" to Blank about Belichick, though the sources declined to elaborate. One source close to Belichick said Kraft "was a big part" of why the Falcons passed on hiring him.

So while Kraft has been publicly supportive of Belichick, his personal feelings are reportedly less kind. A source close to Kraft told ESPN "[Kraft] found Bill to be extremely difficult and obstinate and kind of stubborn and, in the end, not worthy of his trust. And also very, very, very arrogant." A spokesperson for Kraft denied to ESPN that the Patriots owner said anything negative about Belichick during his conversations with Blank.

According to ESPN, Belichick had no knowledge about what Kraft reportedly said on the phone call, and thought he had the Falcons job in the bag. He found out with the rest of the world on Jan. 25 that the Falcons had decided to hire Morris.

While there's likely zero chance Belichick works for the Falcons in the future, he doesn't believe he's done coaching and reportedly has a list of three teams he wouldn't mind working for: the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. Belichick has his sights set high, but those are wise choices: all three of those teams could be in the market for a new head coach in 2025 if the current coaches in those jobs (Mike McCarthy of the Cowboys, Brian Daboll of the Giants and Nick Sirianni of the Eagles) don't find more success in 2024.

In late January, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spoke glowingly of Belichick to Yahoo Sports' Jori Epstein.

Yahoo Sports asked Jones what he respected generally about Belichick. Jones’ response quickly veered away from Belichick’s merits.

“I know him personally and I like him,” Jones said. “There’s no doubt in my mind we could work together. None. None.”