Bill Belichick would have found a replacement — maybe even a former lieutenant brought back into the fold — and surely everyone would have said all the right things.
But it wouldn't have been optimal, and it wouldn't have been Plan A.
Sort of like when the former quarterback left for another team and Cam Newton was eventually signed.
Nick Caserio leaving for the Texans was one thing. If Dave Ziegler followed Caserio out the door to become general manager of the Broncos, it would have been devastating to the Patriots' personnel department.
That's why Belichick wisely stepped up and made Ziegler enough assurances — what those are, we don't know yet — to get him to remove his name from consideration with the Broncos, according to multiple league sources.
It saved the Patriots from the personnel equivalent of going to Newton as the starting quarterback. Ziegler is more like Jimmy Garoppolo.
To say that those who know the inner workings of the Patriots breathed a sigh of relief that Ziegler stayed on would be an understatement.