FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In the wake of an ESPN report that detailed friction between coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft, Belichick said Monday that it was “absolutely” his intention to return as coach of the New England Patriots in 2018.
Belichick’s answer in a conference call with reporters came after ESPN’s report said that “those interviewed describe a palpable sense in the building that this might be the last year together for this group.”
The ESPN report said Belichick received a mandate from Kraft to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and that Belichick was “furious and demoralized, according to friends.”
Asked about the reported mandate, 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.”
Belichick also responded to whether the characterization that he was “furious and demoralized” was accurate. “First of all, I don’t really know what you’re talking about; I haven’t read the article,” he said. “I don’t know what that refers to. Look, I know we’ve been through this before. I know you want to report on things that are inaccurate and unattributable. I’m not really interested in responding to all those random, and I would say in a lot of cases, baseless comments.”
The Patriots host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs.
Later Monday, in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI, Belichick was asked how he would describe his relationship with Brady and Kraft.
“Great. Great. Eighteen years with Tom, and  with Robert. It’s been great,” Belichick said. “I appreciate everything Robert has done for me, the opportunity he’s given me, the support. And I’ve been pretty lucky to have Tom as the quarterback for 18 years, playing for 17 years. He’s a great player to coach, and he’s done a lot for this team, and he’s been a huge help to me personally. I have a great relationship with both Robert and Tom. And I would throw in there, since I was part of the article, I feel like I have a good professional relationship with Alex [Guerrero] too.”
Asked if Kraft has ever told him to make a trade he didn’t want to make, Belichick said: “We’ve never done that. We talk about things organizationally and make organizational decisions.”
Belichick was then asked about a few parts of the ESPN article.
When asked about the line that read, “Belichick, having always subscribed to the philosophy that it’s time to go once an owner gets involved in football decisions, left the impression with some friends that the current dynamic was unsustainable,” Belichick said on WEEI: “Once again, I’m not going to reply to all the individual; none of those statements are attributable to anybody. They’re all just anonymous quotes, and so I’m not even going to give the credibility to those anonymous quotes by replying to them.”
Asked about a different part of the story that noted Belichick “has even become good friends with [Roger] Goodell; the two men had a long and private meeting, which two sources told ESPN occurred during the off week after the regular season, when the commissioner visited Foxborough,” Belichick said on WEEI: “That is absolutely not true. The last time I saw the commissioner was before our game against Oakland in Mexico City. He was on the sideline, I saw him before the game, and we wished each other well. That’s the last time I saw him.”
Asked what his relationship is like with Goodell, Belichick said on WEEI, “Again, he’s the commissioner. Certainly, I’m a coach, he’s a commissioner. I think we know what that kind of relationship is; as far as saying hello to him and talking to him and that kind of thing. But seeing him last week? No.”
As for if he would characterize his relationship with Goodell as “good friends”, Belichick said on WEEI, “I don’t know what that means. I’m not going to reply to each individual anonymous quote. Somebody wants to put their name on something and talk about it? I would consider that. For every anonymous opinion and quote that’s out there, I don’t feel obligated to reply to all those, by any means.”