UPDATE: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport is reporting that the Falcons and 49ers have requested permission to interview Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels for their vacant head coaching positions.
Bill Belichick has been through this before. Many times.
Part of the process of overseeing one of the most consistent teams in the NFL for more than a decade is dealing with the fact that other teams have interest in your assistant coaches.
Guys like Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels and Bill O'Brien have turned success working under Belichick into head coaching jobs of their own.
Now McDaniels, once again leading Tom Brady and one of the most potent offenses in the NFL in his second tour of duty in New England, is roundly considered one of the top candidates for head coaching jobs around the league this winter.
Black Monday, a day in which non-playoff NFL teams generally decide the fate of their coaches, has already seen jobs come open with the 49ers, Jets, Falcons and Bears, while Tony Sparano held just an interim title late this fall with the Raiders.
According to various reports, at least two of those teams may have interest in McDaniels. On Sunday, CBSSports.com reported San Francisco and Atlanta might be looking to talk with McDaniels for their jobs.
Monday, ESPN also reported that San Francisco could be interested in seeking an interview with McDaniels, who previously left Belichick's staff after the 2008 season for a tumultuous, one-plus-year stint as the head coach of the Broncos from 2009-10. McDaniels actually interviewed with the Browns last winter before pulling his name from consideration for the Cleveland job that eventually went to Mike Pettine.
Coaches for teams still in the postseason are allowed to interview for open jobs with other teams during the bye week.
Belichick was asked about the situation in his Monday morning conference call, although he apparently had not yet officially been approached by any teams seeking permission to talk to McDaniels.
"That's something that we've dealt with in the past," Belichick said of interview requests that might come up this week regarding his assistants. "We know what the procedures are on all that, how it all has to work and the sequence and how it takes place and what the boundaries are in terms of the teams doing that. So, whatever they are, we'll take them as they come. I really can't, I don't know what – I have no idea really what exactly we're talking about because nothing has happened. But if something does happen then whichever coach it is, we'll follow the procedures that are set up for the league to take care of this type of situation. As always, I would talk with the people involved and try to satisfy all the, I would say needs, but obviously the number one need for me is our football team, what takes place here. Everything else would have to work around that."
As for the man in question himself, McDaniels will focus on his current job until something comes up to cause him to make other considerations.
"I haven't even thought about that, to tell you the truth," McDaniels said in a Monday morning conference call when asked if he wanted to be a head coach next year. "I know that this is that time of the year, but I know that there is also a procedure in place, and those things will sort themselves out. I've said a number of times I'm very happy here. I think I've got one of the best jobs you could possibly have, and I'm just trying to do the best I can here. My focus has been on the Patriots. It will stay on the Patriots right now."
McDaniels, like Belichick, has been through this before.
The Patriots coaches are clearly focused on putting the bye week to productive use and then turning the page to a playoff opponent next weekend.
But as is so often the case time of year, there may be other considerations this week for McDaniels as one of the hottest assistants in the game on a day when a handful of head coaching jobs came open.
As Patriots owner Robert Kraft might say, it's a high-class problem. It's the price of doing business as one of the most consistently successful teams in the game with young coaches like McDaniels and Matt Patricia who are clearly worthy of eventual ascensions up the coaching ranks.