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All signs point to the Falcons hiring Bill Belichick

Reporting suggests that while the deal may not be official for a while, Belichick is lining up to be the team’s next head coach.

New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have not managed to keep their interest in Bill Belichick secret, not that there was any need to. When the legendary coach and the New England Patriots announced a split, there were questions about how many franchises would chase after him. While I’m sure there’s been plenty of contact between teams and Belichick, only one team has been persistently and publicly linked to him: The Falcons.

That level of interest has been reported over and over again, and in recent days, we’re seeing reports that we’re drawing closer to an inevitable hire. Take this, from NFL insider Dianna Russini:

Fellow NFL insider Josina Anderson indicates much the same.

No one other candidate has been reported to get a second interview, and the Falcons are lining up one for this weekend. 11 Alive reporter Maria Martin adds fuel to the fire here, reporting that coaches Belichick may want on his staff in Atlanta are reaching out to the team to ask about the players they may someday be coaching.

There’s still the remote possibility this could all come crashing down—stranger things have happened—but I think every indication we have is that the two sides are essentially working to ensure this is a fit and finalize the hiring. Belichick gets to land in a spot where the quarterback position might be shaky but the rest of the roster looks pretty good and the division still seems up for grabs, and Arthur Blank and the Falcons get to hire the biggest name and most proven winner available for this hiring cycle after six straight losing seasons. Whether the Falcons get to where coach and owner want to go with Belichick at the helm is debatable—and we’ll debate that a lot in the months ahead, assuming this hire happens—but it seems evident that both sides believe there’s a fit here.

UPDATE: The possibility seems a little less remote tonight as of about 6:40 p.m., with the news that the Falcons have scheduled a second interview with Jim Harbaugh, will host Mike Vrabel for an interview, and don’t intend to speed the process along. CBS Sports reporter Jonathan Jones indicates that Blank desperately wants Belichick—again, no surprise—but that the team will take its time and continue to schedule new and second interviews. That’s welcome news.

When might we expect this? If the second interview is this weekend, the Falcons can likely make it official at any point after that, with my best guess being that we’ll know by the middle of next week.

However, it is noteworthy that the Falcons have yet to fulfill the Rooney Rule requirement that they interview a pair of minority coaching candidates in person—they have interviewed several remotely as part of this process—despite clearly zeroing in on Belichick as their preferred candidate. That’s unlikely to draw a fine from the league, given that other teams have been treating their process the same way (I’m looking at the Chargers), but it’s not great optics for a team whose leadership has been involved in shaping the Rooney Rule and it certainly works against the purpose if not the letter of the rule. Raheem Morris is interviewing in person this weekend, but unless the Falcons have another interview lined up that we’re not aware of, any announcement with Belichick will have to wait.

That will slow down this process, but it is unlikely to stop it. Barring a massive twist—another team swooping in with an offer Belichick can’t refuse, perhaps, which we have seen before—the Falcons will go into 2024 hoping that arguably the greatest coach in NFL history can guide this franchise to new heights. Whether you believe that hope is well-placed or misplaced, it seems we’re only a little while away from beginning the journey.