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Robert Kraft Denies Holding Lengthy Bill Belichick Meeting over Jimmy Garoppolo

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2018

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Robert Kraft, owner and CEO of the New England Patriots (L), and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots look on after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he "absolutely" expects Bill Belichick to remain the team's head coach for the 2018 season and denied there were extensive discussions about the team's quarterback situation leading up to the NFL trade deadline.

On Saturday, Peter King of The MMQB passed along Kraft's response to a report by ESPN.com's Seth Wickersham, who wrote the owner presented Belichick with a "mandate" to trade Jimmy Garoppolo during an October meeting that lasted "half the day:"

"Until Monday at the trade deadline—I believe that was Oct. 30—the last time I talked to Bill about Jimmy's situation was in a group with Bill, [club president] Jonathan [Kraft], [director of player personnel] Nick Caserio ... a small group of us, I think in June. That is the last time I talked to Bill about it. I would see Nick occasionally and say, 'Anything going on?'"

Per King, Kraft said the Pats coach, who also serves as general manager, told him there was an opportunity to acquire a second-round draft pick and quarterback Brian Hoyer—who was released by San Francisco and signed by New England rather than included in the deal—for Garoppolo. Kraft signed off on the swap.

He also told King he wouldn't entertain the idea of trading Belichick to another organization.

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

The Patriots on Friday released a joint statement from Kraft, Belichick and starting quarterback Tom Brady after the ESPN.com story was published:

New England Patriots @Patriots

Joint statement from Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady: https://t.co/i555gWZIi6

On Saturday, Wickersham told King, "I absolutely stand by my story."

New England is on a bye this week after it secured the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a 13-3 record, which was tied for the best mark in the NFL.

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