By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In just two days, the Patriots have already undergone a wild offseason roller coaster.
No move caused more of a national stir than the team’s ability to convince Josh McDaniels to renege on his commitment to be the head coach of the Colts and instead remain in his role as Patriots offensive coordinator. The move left the Colts organization stunned and likely will hurt McDaniels’ chances of landing a head coaching job anywhere any time soon.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Patriots owner Robert Kraft worked hard after the Super Bowl in “sweetening” McDaniels’ contract in New England. It was successful.
And according to an anonymous source from somewhere within the league, at least one person views this move as a form of retribution by Kraft, who will likely never forgive the Colts organization for launching the saga that came to be known as DeflateGate.
Schefter relayed the message from that one source: “That’s Kraft putting it to the Colts again. He will forever try and (expletive) that place ever since deflate gate.”
It makes for a dramatic storyline, no doubt, but it might not be entirely accurate. The member of the Colts who was most responsible for DeflateGate was fired last January.
Former GM Ryan Grigson, he of the bootlicking email to league officials in which he praised them for being vigilant stewards of The Shield, was the man most responsible for alerting the NFL to some unfounded suspicions. Since his departure a year ago, the relationship between the Colts and Patriots seemed to improve, with the two teams completing two trades this past offseason.
Head coach Chuck Pagano, who didn’t appear to be involved much in the accusations, is also gone from the organization.
Really, what McDaniels’ decision likely came down to was what was best for McDaniels. He obviously works well with Tom Brady, and as long as they’re together they figure to be able to run a top NFL offense. And with a boost in salary, the appeal of uprooting his family (he has four children) to a new home likely played a much larger factor than anything Ryan Grigson did to the Patriots.
Another voice from within the NFL reached out to Schefter to express a similar thought, saying, “good for Josh. It’s not his fault playoff system and interview window is as it is.”
That comment references the NFL’s policy of assistant coaches not being able to officially take head coaching jobs elsewhere until their seasons end. That extra time allowed the Patriots and McDaniels to reach an agreement, and left the Colts empty-handed.
It’s likely that Kraft certainly doesn’t mind leaving Jim Irsay and his team in such a position, but it’s highly unlikely that doing so was the main motivator for Kraft, Bill Belichick or McDaniels.
But opinions are opinions, and they often rule the day — especially in an ego-driven league like the NFL. So if one person went to Schefter to express such an opinion, then it’s reasonable to believe several or even many people believe that to be the case.
The annual league meetings take place at the end of March in Orlando. Regardless of the “why” of what happened, there’s sure to be some drama when the owners convene.