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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Report: Robert Kraft was ‘driving force’ in keeping Josh McDaniels with Patriots

Robert Kraft

The New England Patriots have been able to sustain an unprecedented level of success for nearly two decades now, but Robert Kraft did not get to where he’s at in life by being naive. From the way it sounds, his outlook on the future of his team is no exception.

Albert Breer of The MMQB wrote in his latest column that Kraft — not Belichick as had been previously reported — was the driving force behind the Patriots convincing Josh McDaniels to bail on the Indianapolis Colts and return as offensive coordinator. The reason? Kraft knows his Hall of Fame coach and quarterback duo won’t be together forever, and he is looking toward the future.

Multiple people close to the situation told me that Kraft was the driving force in keeping Josh McDaniels in Foxboro. Belichick and team president Jonathan Kraft popped their heads in on that Tuesday, but my understanding is the owner was the one who made sure McDaniels wasn’t going anywhere. And he had good reason. When he looked at his team after Super Bowl LII, he saw a coach who’d be 66 and a quarterback who’d be 41 the next time the Patriots took the field. With that came a recognition that the Patriots were starting to look like the kind of year-to-year operation that Kraft loathed to run. It was at the root of the 1997 Bill Parcells divorce. And so he moved to create some stability, and was able to convince McDaniels to stay.

As Breer notes, it was somewhat uncharacteristic of Kraft to bring up Brady’s age when asked about the four-time Super Bowl MVP’s contract situation earlier in the week. Though Brady has said numerous times that he wants to play until he is at least 45, that was as much of an acknowledgement of the QB’s mortality as you will ever hear from Kraft.

Kraft obviously believes in McDaniels, and the fact that he worked so hard to convince him to say shows that the decision was about much more than retaining an offensive coordinator. There have been rumblings that Kraft fattened McDaniels’ wallet as some sort of means of getting revenge, but it’s doubtful one of the most successful owners in sports would make an emotional decision like that. With a coach who will be 66 and a QB who will turn 41 before the start of next season, taking things year-to-year would be a dangerous way of running a franchise.

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