Bill Belichick 'absolutely' will coach New England Patriots in 2018

Bill Belichick offered a one-word answer on Monday when asked if it was his intention to return to the New England Patriots as head coach next season.

“Absolutely,” Belichick said.

Belichick also added a familiar sentence that has become routine talk in New England as he prepares for the team’s upcoming game.

“Right now my interest is trying to do the best I can for our football team to get ready for Saturday night against Tennessee,” Belichick said. The top-seeded Patriots host the fifth-seeded Titans in the AFC divisional round at Foxborough, Mass.

Rumors surrounding a possible departure for Belichick swirled following a recent ESPN report citing unnamed sources detailing a growing rift between the head coach, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft. According to the report, Belichick was furious and demoralized when Kraft sided with Brady on the decision to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco.

The team released a statement on Friday saying there was no strife among the franchise’s main trio.

Asked about the reported mandate from Kraft to trade Garoppolo, Belichick said Monday: “I haven’t read the article. I’ve already commented at length about that situation. Nothing has happened since then. So I don’t have anything to add to it.”

Kraft told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King on Saturday that he “absolutely” believes Belichick will be coaching the Patriots in 2018.

The longtime owner of the team also disputed portions of an ESPN report that claimed “serious disagreements” among Kraft, Belichick and Brady threatens the future of the franchise that has won five Super Bowls in the past 16 seasons.

Kraft, Belichick and Brady have been together since 2000, when Belichick was in his first season with the team and Brady was a sixth-round draft pick. They won their first Super Bowl in the 2001 season.

In his interview with Sports Illustrated, Kraft also waved off any talk of trading Belichick to another team.

“When you’re lucky enough to have someone exceptional, you let them do their job and you get out of the way,” Kraft said.

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