The AFC East’s teams will report to training camp this week. Here is the latest surrounding the Patriots and their perennial challengers:
- The Rob Gronkowski comeback talk has escalated considerably, with Gronkowski doing the speculating and predicting how restless he will be when Patriots camp and games begin. It won’t be Gronk’s relationship with Bill Belichick that stands in the way, Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston notes. After 2017 featured tension between Gronkowski and Belichick, Curran adds that the two “greatly” improved their relationship last season. This came despite the Patriots at one point planning to trade Gronk to the Lions last year. This improved relationship could point to Belichick signing off on a Gronk mid- or late-season return. The Patriots’ shaky tight end depth chart would seemingly have the defending champions eager to have the 30-year-old back in uniform.
- One of Gronkowski’s former sidekicks in New England, Dwayne Allen will not begin camp on time with his new team. The Dolphins placed the veteran tight end on their active/PUP list on Sunday. Cornerback Cordrea Tankersley and linebacker/special-teamer Mike Hull joined Allen in receiving this designation before Miami’s camp. Tankersley tore an ACL in November, so this additional delay was not unexpected. He started 11 games at corner as a rookie but played in only six, as a reserve, last season.
- Might third-round rookie Devin Singletary‘s performance put a potential Hall of Famer on the outs in Buffalo? LeSean McCoy is entering the final season of a five-year, $40MM Bills contract, and his cap savings ($6MM-plus) would benefit the Bills more than releases of Frank Gore or T.J. Yeldon. This led an NFL scouting director to call the McCoy situation one to monitor, per Albert Breer of SI.com. On a limited Bills offense last season, McCoy averaged a career-low 36.7 yards per game. His 3.2 yards per carry were nearly a yard shy of his previous-worst figure. The idea of a McCoy trade has surfaced this offseason, too.
- Despite Leonard Williams being one of Mike Maccagnan‘s highest-profile investments, the New York Post’s Brian Costello predicts, barring unrealistic contract demands, Williams will end up staying on a long-term deal. The defensive end’s positive off-field reputation and standing within the locker room supports the notion the new regime, in Costello’s view, regarding him as a cornerstone player going forward. Speculation in league circles emerged that Adam Gase wanted to move on from Williams, but nothing has developed on that front in weeks. Williams, 25, is set for a fifth-year option season at $14.2MM.