Lawyer Milloy 'Disgusted' by Bill Belichick's 2003 Patriots Contract UltimatumMay 19, 2020
Safety Lawyer Milloy was a four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion during the first seven seasons of his career at the backend of the New England Patriots defense.
He said in an interview on WEEI's Ordway, Merloni and Fauria (h/t Greg Joyce of the New York Post) that head coach Bill Belichick "disgusted" him with an ultimatum in 2003 to take a pay cut or start counting his days with the team:
"I think I went to my fourth Pro Bowl in five years and then I was given an ultimatum: either take a pay cut or leave it."
"That was up to discussion. I had good representation with Carl Poston and went the whole offseason—the last time I talked to Bill was in June right before the veteran (time) when you can go out and seek another team and we had a discussion. He said basically, 'The worst-case scenario is you play out this year and we have to re-visit it after the season.'
"So me and my representation were in agreement with that and the Friday after the last preseason game he pulled me into the office and gives me the same ultimatum: I have until Monday to think about it. Guys get released or have these situations come up all the time, it was just the way he handled it, trying to wait until the Monday before the first game, which really disgusted me."
Joyce noted the safety had four years remaining on his contract at the time and was due to make $4.5 million in 2003.
Milloy surely took some satisfaction in the fact he signed with the Buffalo Bills after his conversation with Belichick and helped lead his new team to a commanding 31-0 victory over the Patriots in the season opener a mere four days later.
He played three years for the Bills, three years with the Atlanta Falcons and two years with the Seattle Seahawks following his tenure with the Patriots but never reached another Pro Bowl or won another championship.
Belichick has developed a reputation when it comes to roster building as someone who would rather move on from a player a season or two early rather than too late, and Milloy was one example of such a move.
Milloy and Belichick were able to eventually move past their differences, and the safety said the coach has since welcomed him back "with open arms" even though "it took me a while to even mention the Patriots the way it went down."
Even with the ultimatum, Milloy was a critical piece in the early days of what became a New England dynasty. Belichick surely recognized those contributions as they put aside any remaining differences.