The New England Patriots are entering a new era, and no one knows how it's going to turn out.
Gone is Tom Brady, who spent the last couple of decades leading the Patriots to six Super Bowl championships, nine Super Bowl appearances and 17 AFC East division titles.
Brady left snowy New England for the warmer, sunnier weather in Florida, joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-year deal in free agency last month.
Is this even a bit too tall of a task for the great Bill Belichick to handle?
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports pointed out that the decisions by Brady and Gronkowski to head to Tampa Bay says more about Belichick than anything else, calling the “breakup” a “Belichick story.”
Brady's strained relationship with Belichick was hardly a secret, and while Gronkowski's relationship with the head coach was never really a topic of discussion, he mentioned this past season just how demanding it is to play for the Patriots.
Would Gronkowski have come out of retirement had Brady stayed in New England? We'll never know for sure, but it seems awfully peculiar that Gronk elected to retake the gridiron weeks after Brady bolted Foxborough.
Belichick is widely viewed as the greatest coach in NFL history, just like Brady is regarded as the best quarterback ever. But for as much of a genius as Belichick is, he may be biting off a bit more than he can chew.
The Patriots are currently rolling with the unproven Jarrett Stidham under center, and before anyone says New England did that 19 years ago with Brady, the exception is not the rule.
Not only that, but Belichick did not address any of the Pats' biggest weaknesses this offseason. He didn't get any receivers. He didn't sign a tight end. He lost numerous key defensive pieces.
Yes, the draft is this week, but relying on a bunch of rookies to fill gaping holes might not be the wisest idea.
Either Belichick is aware of the situation and is fine entering rebuilding mode, or he genuinely feels he can win with this current group and is being flat out stubborn in his convictions.
Regardless of what is going through his mind, there is no doubt that there is heavy pressure on Belichick entering 2020.
This is largely uncharted territory for Belichick, or at least something he has not experienced in almost 20 years. Any wrong decision he makes from this point forward will be magnified. Critics will be quick to point out, “Ah, see? Your margin for error was only large because of Brady.”
While many are picking the Buffalo Bills to win the division next season, that doesn't mean there is any less weight on the back of Belichick, who now must prove that he really is the brilliant mind that he has come to be known as over the years.
Brady will be just fine in Tampa, and even if he struggles, it can just be chalked up to old age. Heck, he turns 43 in August. But if Belichick labors without Brady? A whole lot of narratives might change.