New England Patriots

So when you get right down to it, here’s the takeaway: if there has indeed been a power struggle within the walls at Gillette Stadium, Bill Belichick certainly appears to have lost it.

Tabloid sensationalism? Maybe. But as we’ve learned in Boston over the last 20 years or so – from Kraft and Parcells to Epstein and Lucchino to Brady and Belichick – there is nothing even remotely as interesting as palace intrigue. And if we look at the facts over the last few months in Foxboro – the pure timeline – we cannot help but come to the conclusion that Robert Kraft has put his allegiance to Tom Brady ahead of all else, including Belichick.

Belichick didn’t want to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, after all. But he was ultimately left with no choice but to cut ties with Brady’s apparent successor. And yet this time, as the potential heir to Bill’s throne was headed for the door, the Krafts intervened and made sure that Josh McDaniels didn’t go anywhere, yanking him back from an Indianapolis Colts team that had already announced his hiring.

Think about that. Garoppolo had to go. McDaniels had to stay. The undisputed winner on all fronts is Brady, who got rid of his competition (Garoppolo) and ensured organizational continuity – on at least some level – if and when Belichick decides to depart.

No matter what happens not, Tom is insulated.

Tom Brady confers with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick during a game with the Washington Redskins on Nov. 8, 2015. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady confers with Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick during a game with the Washington Redskins on Nov. 8, 2015. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Is there the chance that Belichick, too, wanted McDaniels to remain? Of course. Sure. Belichick has a lot on his plate this offseason, if he remains in Foxboro, from his coaching staff to the defense to the search for another quarterback that will lead the Patriots into the post-Brady era. McDaniels is his protégé in some ways. But Bill also now has someone looking over his shoulder the way Tom has for the last four years, and that has to make Brady feel good on at least some level.

No, you say? Please. Let’s not ignore the fact that Brady and Belichick are both human. Yesterday, less than two days after the Patriots lost Super Bowl LII after Belichick decided to sit cornerback Malcolm Butler in favor of, among others, Eric Rowe, Johnson Bademosi and Jordan Richards, Butler posted his side of the story on Instagram, disputing many of the reports offering an explanation for his absence. Butler pretty much shot them all down – at least the big ones – further suggesting that Belichick made the decision for no good reason.

Fine. He said, she said. But what happened next should tell you plenty.

Tom Brady picked a side.

And he picked Butler’s.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Malcolm Butler warms up prior to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Now, maybe this means nothing to you, but it should. During his 18 years in Foxboro, Brady has been the consummate company man. He has limited his own pay for the benefit of the team. He has rarely (if ever) criticized teammates or acknowledged controversy. Certainly, he has never publicly crossed Belichick, who is such a control freak that that he makes control freaks look like hippies from the 1960s.

By “liking” Butler’s post on Instagram, Brady endorsed it the way John Hancock endorsed the Declaration of Independence. There was nothing subtle about it. Brady lined up behind his teammate, squarely in the face of his Hall of Fame coach, and he let everybody in the world know it.

RELATED: Malcolm Butler’s Absence Hangs Ominously Over Patriots’ Super Bowl Loss

And then, just a few hours later, the Krafts endorsed Brady’s confidant and offensive coordinator, McDaniels, who had already agreed to be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

In a word … wow.

Tom Brady reacts with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady reacts with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

So what happens from here? Heaven knows. Maybe Belichick walks this season and maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he just takes his medicine and accepts the reality. Whatever the case, the Krafts have decided that it is more important to them to keep Brady happy than it is to fully support Belichick, and we now have more than one example to prove it.

Brady or Belichick? Belichick or Brady?

The owners of the Patriots have made their beliefs known.

And it isn’t the coach.

— By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

You can hear Mazz’s thoughts weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.