Bill Belichick‘s departure from the New England Patriots wasn’t exactly a surprise, since the team had a terrible campaign in 2023. What no one expected is to see so many teams pass up the opportunity to hire the six-time Super Bowl champion.

In the weeks prior to his exit from Foxborough, Belichick was linked to a number of teams, including with a possible move to Dallas if the Cowboys had another playoff collapse. The team did suffer an early elimination, but Jerry Jones decided to keep Mike McCarthy regardless.

The next team to be seriously mentioned as Belichick’s possible landing spot were the Falcons. However, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Atlanta ultimately opted to hire Rams’ defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to replace Arthur Smith. But how is it possible that a successful coach like Belichick is still without a team? Let’s take a look at three possible reasons.

3. Control

One of the few, but biggest complains about Belichick’s tenure in New England was his complete authority over the team’s football operations (especially in the post-Tom Brady era).

While praised for his coaching abilities that led to one of the greatest dynasties in sports history, Belichick’s decisions as the de facto general manager at Patriots in the last few years have often let a lot to be desired.

Belichick looked willing to give up that role in order to continue coaching the Patriots. Even so, since he worked for more than two decades without a GM by his side, many believe he could demand full control at a new team.

2. Lack of success without Tom Brady

Strange as it may sound, some dare to question Belichick’s accomplishments for one simple reason: Tom Brady was his quarterback in all those championships. And when Brady left, the Patriots looked like a completely different team.

After a year of transition with Cam Newton under center, Belichick gave the job to Mac Jones after drafting the Alabama product in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The team showed an improvement in his rookie year, making the playoffs for the first time since Brady’s departure. It wasn’t a deep run though, as the Bills claimed a comfortable win in the Wild Card round.

But the Patriots took many steps back in the next two seasons, failing to make the postseason while finishing both campaigns with a losing record. The trust Belichick had shown for Jones was lost in 2023, when he finished an already lost year with Bailey Zappe as starter. This lack of success led to Belichick being seriously questioned after decades of respect, and it eventually saw him leave the place where he had written history.

1. Age

It’s possible that, even with everything he won in his 20-plus tenure with the Patriots, Belichick has so far been overlooked due to his age. The 6x Super Bowl winner turns 72 in April, and while there shouldn’t be anything wrong with that, it looks like NFL teams are looking for younger coaches.

With Pete Carroll, 72, also parting with Seattle this year, Andy Reid (who turns 66 in March) has been left as the oldest active coach in the league at 65. The teams that had openings this offseason have mostly opted for younger coaches (except the Charges who hired Jim Harbaugh, 60), some of them relatively inexperienced at a head coaching position.

Before the Falcons hired Morris (47), the Raiders promoted Antonio Pierce (45) from interim to full-time head coach, the Panthers landed Bucs’ offensive coordinator Dave Canales (42), the Titans hired former Bengals’ OC Brian Callahan (39), and the Patriots promoted Jerod Mayo (37). Even though Belichick has shown what he’s capable of, it seems that many teams prefer to see what younger coaches can bring to the league. But there are still a few vacancies.

The Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders are the only teams looking for a head coach now, but Belichick has only interviewed with Atlanta so far. We’ll have to wait and see whether he gets one of these remaining opportunities, or if another team decides to make a coaching change.