The three central figures in the ESPN story about a power struggle within the New England Patriots organization have released a joint statement denying the article, saying they "stand united." In a combined statement, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and veteran quarterback Tom Brady said that they have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship for almost 20 years. The three also criticized several media reports that have speculated theories about the organization, calling them "unsubstantiated, exaggerated and inaccurate." The three said they look forward to the team's next challenge of competing in the divisional round and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as they have for the past 18 years.

The three also expressed sadness that they have to respond "to these fallacies." The Patriots are on a bye week and will play on January 13 in a divisional round game against a still-to-be-determined opponent.

ESPN provided details of rift

The ESPN story, written by Seth Wickersham, provides details about an alleged power struggle between Kraft, Belichick and Brady, among other things. It also detailed the rift between Belichick and Brady’s trainer and close friend Alex Guerrero. Wickersham also said that Kraft ordered Belichick to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after the 40-year-old Brady met with the team owner to express his intention to play longer. Belichick allegedly didn’t want to sign Brady to a long-term extension because of his age.

Also, Belichick wanted to give Garoppolo a chance to become the team’s starting quarterback as originally planned.

However, Kraft ordered Belichick to trade Garoppolo because he was not part of the team’s long-term plan. While he was furious and demoralized about the order, Belichick heeded Kraft’s mandate. Belichick called the San Francisco 49ers and arranged a trade that shipped Garoppolo for a 2018 second-round pick before the deadline.

Earlier, Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch described the feud as “so severe that this could be the last year that the three men will be working together.”

Brady, Garoppolo’s agent speaks

Don Yee, the agent for both Brady and Garoppolo, reacted to the ESPN story involving his clients. Yee said he didn’t want to respond to the story because ESPN provided no on-the-record quote. “All I can suggest is don’t believe everything you read,” said Yee.