NFL Rumors: Atlanta Falcons may be Bill Belichick’s only hope

All signs seemed to indicate that Belichick would be the next head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Now, that possibility is fading. Are the Falcons making a mistake? Will Belichick even get hired?

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons
Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

Bill Belichick is a free agent.

The renowned football historian has a résumé with 48 years of coaching experience. He is an eight-time Super Bowl champion and three-time AP NFL Coach of the Year, while being recognized on two NFL All-Decade Teams and the NFL Top 100 All-Time Team. As a head coach, he holds the NFL record for most divisional titles (17), most postseason appearances (19), most postseason wins (31), most Super Bowl appearances (9), and most Super Bowl wins (6). He has appeared in over one-fifth of all Super Bowls in NFL history.

Reports seemed to indicate that Belichick would become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Team owner Arthur Blank formerly pursued high-profile head coaches like Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells, but failed to land either of them. It was believed that Belichick, who is from Parcells' coaching tree, would finally be the one that Blank managed to hire. The 71-year-old coach recently met with Blank, team CEO Rich McKay, team president Greg Beadles and general manager Terry Fontenot.

Blank "desperately" wanted to hire Belichick, according to CBS Sports' Jonathan Jones.

Chances of Bill Belichick to the Atlanta Falcons are fading

The meetings with Belichick haven't stopped the Falcons from interviewing several other candidates for the vacancy, however. Blank announced that the team would conduct an exhaustive search for their next head coach, and he wasn't exaggerating. The franchise has interviewed 14 coaches for the position.

As the Falcons begin to host other candidates for interviews, the likelihood of a Belichick hiring is dissipating. As Belichick's candidacy for the position loses momentum, league sources believe that it's inaccurate to assume that the Falcons are all-in on Belichick, per The Athletic's Josh Kendall.

Common sense would suggest that a coach of that pedigree would be heavily sought-after on the NFL coaching carousel, but Belichick hasn't been linked to any other teams.

"The only team he's spoken to so far, to my knowledge, is the Falcons," ESPN's Adam Schefter said. " ... He is the greatest coach of all time, he belongs somewhere. ... Why would there not be more teams that are interested in Belichick?"

Several elements could make it difficult to hire Belichick. The head coach has generally controlled all football-related operations for his teams, including serving as the de facto general manager. Any franchise that already has an established general manager may not be willing to relinquish all power to Belichick. Another factor could be Belichick's age. As a 71-year-old coach, there are questions about how much longer he will remain in the NFL. If Belichick retires in three years, the franchise that hired him as head coach and general manager would be left with multiple vacancies.

If things don't work out with the Falcons, the options are dwindling for Belichick. Teams have already started filling their head coaching vacancies. The Las Vegas Raiders named Antonio Pierce as their head coach, while the Tennessee Titans made the controversial decision to hire Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan. The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles were playoff teams that could have potentially looked for a change, but both teams decided to retain their current head coaches.

The clock is ticking for the greatest head coach of all time.

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