As the New England Patriots enter a most unpredictable offseason, coach Bill Belichick faced the media on Sunday morning -- roughly 12 hours removed from a season-ending loss to the Titans -- and offered up very predictable retorts.
With the offseason having come to Foxborough earlier than it has since 2009, the looming question is quarterback Tom Brady's future with the team. Brady is one of 20 New England free agents, including notables such as special teamer Matthew Slater, linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, guard Joe Thuney and more. Obviously, the status of perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time takes precedence, but Sunday morning wasn't the time to talk about anyone's Patriots future, according to their coach.
"I'm sure there are a lot of questions about the future," Belichick's opening statement offered. "Nobody has thought about the future. Everybody's been focused and working on Miami and then Tennessee. That's where all the focus should've been and where it was. Whatever's in the future we'll deal with at some later point in time. We're certainly not going to deal with it now. It's always a tough ending to the year."
Despite his opening salvo, Belichick still faced myriad questions regarding Brady's uncertain future as the 42-year-old enters the great wide world of free agency with his Patriots contract having stipulated a franchise tag could not be used.
"Tom is an iconic figure in this organization," Belichick said. "No one respects Tom more than I do. I respect all the other players and the other coaches in this organization, too. I think that everybody that is part of it is an important part of it. And I want to give the proper attention, communication and detail and thought into my input into those decisions. But any decisions made, it's not an individual decision. There are other people involved. So there has to be some type of communication, understanding, agreement, whatever you want to call it. It's not a one-way street. I hope you can understand that. One person can't just decide what everybody else is gonna do. One player's not under contract. We have a lot of players who aren't under contract."
Brady immediately dealt with quandaries about his future following Saturday's loss and told the press that it was "pretty unlikely" he would retire, but added he did not "know what the future looks like."
Though the season ended off script from previous ones in New England, Belichick stayed with his usual press conference script as he offered little of note.
"I know it's out there," Belichick said of Brady's situation. "We could bring up 50 questions just like that one. I told you what my state is on that. You can ask all 50 of them and it's going to be the same answer 50 times. I've been working on Tennessee; it's 12 hours after the game. I'm not gonna talk about things in the future, because I'm not prepared to talk about them."
There is no more game plan prep, though, as the offseason's arrived early and it's one that will be in the news cycle until Brady decides what and where will become of the 2020 season.
"We'll try to use [the extra] time as productively as we can," Belichick said. "Has all that been laid out yet? Absolutely not. But, that'll be one of the first orders of business."