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Bill Belichick began his career in the NFL nearly 50 years ago and as he approaches 71, the question of when his career will end becomes more of a topic of discussion. Belichick has shown no signs of wanting to retire, but that does not mean New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft hasn't thought of who will take over. 

While speaking to the media, Kraft gave one person on his mind to take over for The Hoodie, whenever that time comes. He said former Patriot and current assistant coach Jerod Mayo is a front-runner for the job that is not quite open for new candidates yet.

"Well, he's definitely a strong candidate to be the heir apparent," Kraft said of the inside linebackers coach (via, "but we have some other good people in our system. So right now, we have a good head coach, and we're doing everything we can to support him, and make sure we do everything we can to win."

Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time, winning six Super Bowls as a head coach and leading his team to two dynasties in two decades, but he has been under criticism since quarterback Tom Brady left. Since No. 12 went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Patriots have made the playoffs just once, losing in the Wild Card Round in 2021. They have not won the AFC East since the GOAT's departure, leaving some concerns over the future of the team.

Kraft had high praise for Belichick and while he admits that at the end of the day they do need someone who can lead the team to the playoffs, the owner says right now he believes Belichick is the one for the job.

"Look, I think Bill is exceptional at what he does. And I've given him the freedom to make the choices and do the things that need to be done," Kraft said. "His football intellect and knowledge is unparalleled from what I've seen, and when you talk to him, the small things analytically that he looks at."

Kraft continued, saying, "But in the end, this is a business. You either execute and win, or you don't. That's where we're at. I think we're in a transition phase. I think we've made some moves this year, that I personally am comfortable with, and I still believe in Bill."

The Patriots had a losing record at 8-9 in 2022 and were 7-9 in 2020. Before then, their last losing record was in 2000. Kraft and Belichick both still have high expectations for the season and believe they are making changes that will help them win.