By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Shortly after the NFL Draft concluded on Saturday night, Bill Belichick announced that Ernie Adams, a longtime member of the Patriots football staff, had worked his final draft.

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“And then I would say just to kind of wrap up the day, with Ernie Adams. This was his last draft,” Belichick said. “Certainly he’s been a huge part of the draft process with the Patriots, going all the way to Coach [Chuck] Fairbanks, to the Giants, to Cleveland, to back to New England. And the acquisition of a lot of great players, all the process that goes into drafting — grading players, scouting players, setting up a grading scale, trading, really every single thing that is involved in that, you know, Ernie’s had that seat in that role. He’s been a part of all those things. So, as always, it was great to work with him again over the weekend here.”

The news was certainly surprising, as Adams has become somewhat of a legendary figure in New England for his partially mysterious behind-the-scenes role during the dynasty runs for the Patriots.

Adams has been a member of the football staff in Foxboro for the entirety of Bill Belichick’s tenure, as he was re-hired in April of 2000 as the football research director. Adams had worked for the Patriots from 1975-79. He worked for Belichick in Cleveland from 1991-95.

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A high school classmate of Belichick who introduced himself by informing Bill that he had read his father’s book on football scouting, Adams has been a trusted right-hand man for Belichick at both of his head coaching stops. And whether it was his rare on-camera interviews, his famous pregame reconnaissance on opponents, or his empty picture frames on draft day, Adams has gained more popularity among fans than he ever sought, as everybody tried to pin down Adams’ precise role with the team.

Belichick did not say if Adams is retiring entirely from his role as football research director, or if the draft is dropping from his list of responsibilities. He did speak to how significant of an impact Adams has made on the team.

“I just wanted to give an opportunity here as we close out this draft to thank Ernie for all he’s done and recognize all that he’s done, so that’s really what it is,” Belichick said. “I think Ernie’s contributions are, you know, historic and, again, they traverse several decades and in so many different areas, I mean, in every corner of the room and then some. He’s literally been involved in every single aspect of the football program at every level that you could possibly be involved in, and he’s done an outstanding job in all of them.”

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Belichick added: “Not all coaches have the kind of involvement that Ernie’s had in the draft process throughout his career, and his knowledge, experience and decisions and organization and being part of the process, the way he set it up and taught it to really all the people that have come through here, from Scott [Pioli] and Nick [Caserio], all the scouts and so forth, it’s really, he’s had a big, big hand in it. Again, going back to the foundation of when it was laid in the middle ’70s with [former Patriots GM Bucko Kilory] and Chuck and so forth. That’s on a major level. At some point, he can talk more about that.”