Rob Gronkowski

East Notes: Cowboys, Gregory, Pats, Gronk

This week, the Cowboys surprised many when they signed Randy Gregory to an extension. The immensely talented edge rusher is serving the fourth substance abuse suspension of his career, one that has him indefinitely banned. Still, the Cowboys gave him a new contract to take him through the 2020 season.

The Cowboys believe that Gregory can be an impact player once again, and coach Jason Garrett says the organization appreciates the seriousness of what he is dealing with.

Again, without going into the details of all the things he’s done to try to get to the point where he can play for us, it’s been a very serious approach as an organization and his approach has been serious,” Garrett said. “He’s been able to make strides. He was able to come back and play for us and be a very productive player and a productive guy in our locker room but unfortunately, my understanding of all of this is sometimes relapse is part of rehab, so we’re working through the process of suspension right now with the NFL, but Randy Gregory is working very hard trying to get back, trying to get the situation under control and we’re doing everything we can under the rules to help him do that.”

The Cowboys are hopeful that Gregory’s ban will be lifted sometime in 2019, but if it’s not, they plan to have him on the field in 2020.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Redskins left tackle Trent Williams should be ready for training camp after having a growth or tumor on his head removed (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). For a while, teammates were under the impression that the potentially malignant growth could keep Williams out for the season. Fortunately, that’s not the case, and Williams should be OK moving forward. The veteran has dealt with multiple health issues over the last few seasons – he’s missed time with thumb, knee, and rib injuries. In 2017, he managed to play through a torn patellar tendon and pushed off surgery until the offseason.
  • A reminder from ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss – If Rob Gronkowski isn’t moved off the reserve/retired list by Week 13, he can’t return at all. There has been speculation that the tight end could make a mid-season return to the Patriots, though Gronk insists that he’s done with football.

Rob Gronkowski Open To Patriots Return?

TUESDAY, 6:53pm: The Patriots placed Gronkowski on the reserve/retired list. They will hold the future Hall of Famer’s rights if he decides to backtrack on this decision.

MONDAY, 1:01pm: Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, appeared on NFL Network and said the retirement caught him by surprise (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). “I was shocked. I thought Rob was going to come back and play,” he said. Rapoport writes that “his speculation, gut feeling, is that Gronk comes back at some point. But Rob told Rosenhaus he is ‘done, done, done.'”

MONDAY, 11:00am: Rob Gronkowski has retired from the NFL, but he might be willing to come back under the right circumstances. In an interview on ESPN, agent Drew Rosenhaus seemingly left the door open to Gronk suiting up for the Pats once again. 

[RELATED: Gronk Announces Retirement]

If the team was struggling or they needed him at some point next year, and let’s just say hypothetically Tom Brady gave him a call and said ‘Rob, I need you.’ I wouldn’t be shocked if he came back to play a few games,” Rosenhaus said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter).

Gronkowski has flirted with retirement in the past before changing course and suiting up for the NFL’s greatest dynasty. In the past, it appeared that Gronk had reservations about his health, motivation, and contract. Perhaps with some extra time to rest up – and a more lucrative offer from the Patriots – the tight end could consider a mid-season return.

For the Patriots, a mid-season addition of Gronkowski could be a game changer. After losing both Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen in free agency, the Patriots are short on answers at tight end with little in the way of remaining free agent options to fill the void.

Gronk didn’t look like his old self in 2018, but he’s one of the best to ever play the tight end position and is a force to be reckoned with when healthy. To date, Gronkowski has registered 521 receptions, 7,861 yards, and 79 touchdowns over the course of his legendary career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Reactions To Rob Gronkowski’s Retirement

Rob Gronkowski stepping away from football sent shockwaves through the NFL. While it wasn’t totally unexpected, it came suddenly and has left a massive hole in the Patriots’ offense. Gronkowski’s retirement will have implications well beyond what happens in New England, and reactions and additional tidbits about the retirement began pouring in soon after he made the announcement on his Instagram. We’ve compiled the best of those below:

  • Gronkowski called Patriots owner Robert Kraft to let him know of his decision earlier today, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Reiss writes that Kraft “found out not long before” Gronkowski made the social media post announcing the news himself. It sounds like New England didn’t have much advance notice, and as such not too much time to prepare for the news.
  • Gronk’s decision will give the Patriots some additional cap flexibility. The retirement will save the team around $9.5MM in cap space for this season, notes Ben Volin of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). New England also recently restructured the contract of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, so they have a decent amount of money to work with.
  • The Patriots reportedly “aggressively courted” tight end Jared Cook before he decided to head to New Orleans, but New England shouldn’t give up on signing Cook, writes Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com. Gantt points out that Cook still hasn’t officially signed with the Saints, and that the Patriots recently attempted to steal away Adam Humphries at the 11th hour after he had agreed to sign with the Titans. Cook reportedly chose the Saints because of the uncertainty surrounding Gronkowski, so it’s reasonable to think he could reconsider with Gronk now out of the picture.
  • With not many big name tight ends left available in free agency, the Patriots could turn to the draft to replace Gronkowski. The Patriots “immediately become a favorite for Noah Fant or Irv Smith if they’re available” when the Patriots pick at number 32 in the draft, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Fant is the tight end from Iowa while Smith is from Alabama, and both could go toward the end of the first round. Miller writes he could also see the Pats taking Dawson Knox from Ole Miss in the second round.
  • Kraft and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick both released statements on Gronkowski’s retirement, which you can view here courtesy of this tweet from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Both men gushed over Gronkowski, and declared him one of the best tight ends to ever play.

Rob Gronkowski Announces Retirement

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement via his Instagram page. Gronkowski released a lengthy statement in the caption to the post, saying in part:

It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine.”

Gronkowski has flirted with retirement in the past, but it felt especially sincere this time around, and the recent increased chatter about retirement turned out to be accurate. The surefire future Hall of Fame member was reportedly nearly traded to the Lions last offseason, but threatened to retire in order to block it. We heard earlier this morning that the Patriots “aggressively courted” Jared Cook before he decided to sign with the Saints, which in hindsight might’ve foreshadowed this move.

Gronkowski entered the league as a second round pick out of Arizona back in 2010. He immediately became a star, and was a generational talent at the tight end position. But he was done in by injuries the past handful of seasons, with recurrent back injuries and other ailments. If this really is it, he’ll be retiring at the age of 29. Gronkowski is hanging up his cleats as a three-time Super Bowl champion and a four-time first-team All-Pro.

Gronk had some big moments this past season, but overall didn’t look like his old self. He appeared in 13 games, catching 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns. For his career, he’ll finish with 521 receptions, 7,861 yards, and 79 touchdowns. He wasn’t just a pass-catcher, as the Patriots’ running game always ran through his blocking. He’ll go down as one of, if not the, best tight ends of all time. Gronkowski has numerous off-field interests, and has signaled an interest in going into acting in the past.

The Patriots signed former Broncos tight end Matt LaCaosse earlier this month, but are almost certainly not done adding to the position. They’re armed with 12 draft picks, and should be a good bet to take a tight end early next month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets

Having ended their veteran quarterback search with a Ryan Fitzpatrick agreement, after pursuing Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor, the Dolphins continue to embark on a rebuilding track. In fact, the word “tanking” came up during one of the team’s head coach interviews, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald notes. Chris Grier, as could be expected, denied the team will use 2019 to tank.

Often one of the most active teams during free agency, the Dolphins this year have parted ways with starters Ryan Tannehill, Josh Sitton, Ted Larsen, Andre Branch and Danny Amendola. They let Ja’Wuan James and Cameron Wake walk. This leads Salguero to the notion the Dolphins are indeed tanking with the prospect of being in best position to land a high 2020 draft pick and have cap space when that league year begins. As of now, early projections have the Dolphins at $107MM in 2020 cap space — second in the league behind the Cowboys. And with Dallas set to extend several young talents, Miami looks poised to lead that pack. Fitzpatrick has made at least eight starts in a season nine times; his teams finished with a winning record in one of those seasons. Sunday’s move lends further credence the Dolphins are targeting the 2020 quarterback class.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Rob Gronkowski has not given the Patriots his decision on if he will continue his career in 2019, but if the future Hall of Famer wants an extension, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes this cannot happen until August 30 — a year after his previous contract adjustment, per an NFL rule. Long dissatisfied with a contract he agreed to in 2012, Gronkowski would be entering the final year of that deal if he returned for 2019. The Patriots could approach Gronk about a pay cut, however, at any point this offseason, per Volin. Gronkowski is due a $10MM salary and to count $11.86MM on the Patriots’ cap. The latest word on Gronk’s status is a return for a 10th season is more likely than a retirement.
  • Conversely, a Tom Brady extension can happen at any point this offseason. Since the Patriots did not adjust their quarterback’s cap number via the unmet incentives last year, Volin notes they can extend his contract before the 12-month mark from when the team included those incentives. Brady’s deal appears likely to be adjusted, with the 41-year-old passer’s contract-year cap figure sitting at $27MM.
  • Dialogue about the trade that moved the Jets up to last year’s No. 3 overall pick began at the 2018 Senior Bowl, with Jets VP of player personnel Brian Heimerdinger approaching Colts assistant GM Ed Dodds that January about a possible trade, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Christopher Johnson emphasized the Jets focus on quarterback scouting in 2017, primarily Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen. The Jets targeted No. 3 overall because their sources indicated to them the Giants were zeroing in on Saquon Barkley, Cimini adds. Gang Green put its plan B into action a year ago today after Kirk Cousins spurned them.
  • The Dolphins are interested in acquiring a fullback, which marks a change from recent years. Specifically, they are exploring the addition of Michael Burton, per Salguero. Burton was Pro Football Focus’ No. 2-rated fullback last season but only played 49 snaps, not enough to qualify for full-time status. Only five fullbacks did meet those standards, illustrating this position’s scarcity on most teams. If not Burton, a four-year veteran who has played in Detroit and Chicago, Miami may target another UFA blocking back.
  • Prior to LaAdrian Waddle signing with the Bills, the Patriots conveyed interest in bringing him back, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The Pats kept an open dialogue with their swing tackle but were not willing to match the Bills’ offer, Reiss adds.

Rob Gronkowski Leaning Towards Returning?

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski may be leaning towards a return in 2019 (video link). Agent Drew Rosenhaus said that he spoke with Gronk recently but that the star tight end still has not made a firm decision.

However, Rapoport says that other people close to Gronkowski believe it is more likely he plays next season, and that he will put off retirement for at least one more year. The Patriots are also tentatively planning to have the soon-to-be 30-year-old suit up for them in 2019.

Rapoport indicates that New England has been involved in the tight end market to some degree over the past couple of days, but it does not sound as if they are anxiously seeking a Gronkowski replacement (not that there are too many intriguing TEs available anyway). Combined with several reports we heard back in February, it is looking more and more like Tom Brady will have one of his best weapons back as he seeks his seventh Super Bowl championship.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rob Gronkowski Decision Expected In Next Several Weeks

One of the biggest storylines of the offseason is whether Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will call it a career or if he will rejoin the defending champs for at least one more season. He said in the aftermath of Super Bowl LIII that he would make his decision in a week or two, but we are now more than two weeks removed from the Super Bowl, and we still don’t have an answer.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus, though, said Gronk will decide soon. Rosenhaus said, “He’s thinking it through, he’s giving it a lot of thought… I imagine a decision will happen in the next couple of weeks” (Twitter link via ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates).

Of course, it makes sense for anyone to take their time when making a decision of this magnitude, but the delay could also suggest that recent events have changed Gronkowski’s thought process. A report back in January suggested that he was leaning towards retirement, which came on the heels of a separate report at the end of December indicating that Gronk had grown tired of the “Patriot Way.”

But winning cures a lot of ills, and there figures to be much less drama in Foxborough in 2019 than there was last year. Just two days ago, we heard that Gronkowski is spending plenty of time at Gillette Stadium these days, and that his feeling towards the Pats are very positive at the moment. Plus, quarterback Tom Brady will be back in 2019, and Gronkowski was able to finish the 2018 campaign healthy, both of which are primary factors in his decision.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Gronk, Slater, Jones

The Patriots will end up getting a 2019 seventh-round pick out of the Josh Gordon trade, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. It was initially reported that New England sent a fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Gordon, and that a seventh-rounder would be coming back to the Pats if Gordon was unable to play 10 games with the club in 2018. Although Gordon ended up playing 11 games for New England before being suspended again, Reiss says the 10-game condition was lifted and that the Patriots will get the 29th pick in the seventh round.

Now for more news and notes from the Super Bowl champs:

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been at Gillette Stadium multiple times over the last couple of weeks, and while he may only be there to continue treatment on his thigh, Reiss believes Gronk’s presence is reflective of the good relationship between him and the team at the moment and of Gronkowski’s overall positive feelings towards the Patriots. Although he may still retire, his current state of mind is good news for Pats fans who would like to see him back in 2019.
  • Matthew Slater is due a $400K roster bonus on March 13, and assuming he is still on the roster at that point, the team’s 2019 option — which calls for a $1.6MM base salary — will be automatically exercised. Reiss believes that is a reasonable price for a special teams ace like Slater, and that the 33-year-old will be back in Foxborough next season.
  • Reiss also believes tight end Dwayne Allen could be back, as the team admires his professionalism and work ethic, but he will obviously need to accept a pay cut; he is due a $6.4MM base salary in 2019.
  • Cornerback Jonathan Jones proved his value to the Patriots in this year’s playoffs, and he is eligible for restricted free agency in March. As Reiss observes, the Patriots could tender him at the second-round level, which would entitle him to a salary of $3.1MM, or at the low level, which calls for a $2MM salary. But if they go with the latter option, they risk losing Jones without getting any draft compensation in return, so Reiss suggests that the two sides could explore a long-term deal before free agency opens.
  • Zack Cox of NESN.com believes LT Trent Brown will get a contract on the free agent market that the Patriots cannot compete with, and that the team will need to turn to 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn to replace him. Wynn, of course, missed his entire rookie campaign due to a torn Achilles he suffered last preseason.
  • Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels received only tepid interest on the head coaching market this year, but Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says McDaniels’ excellent work in engineering the Patriots’ Super Bowl run will put him firmly back on the HC radar in 2020.
  • The Patriots have once again surfaced as a potential home for Colin Kaepernick.

Poll: Will Rob Gronkowski Return In 2019?

Rob Gronkowski‘s decision on playing a 10th season is expected to come as soon as this week. On the heels of his third Super Bowl ring, Gronk exited the Patriots’ victory healthy after another injury-plagued season.

A report linked Gronkowski to having a better outlook on playing in 2019 if he was healthy at season’s end and if Tom Brady was committed to another season. Both of these came to fruition, adding intrigue to this decision. In January, Gronk was leaning toward retiring. Is he now?

The best tight end of his generation and perhaps the most dominant tight end in NFL history, Gronk has yet to turn 30. But his body has betrayed him many times over. Ankle and back injuries limited him to 13 games this season, and he missed a game because of injury in 2017. Gronkowski missed major chunks of the 2012, ’13 and ’16 slates as well. He has not played a 16-game season since 2011, and it would be unreasonable to expect 16 Gronk games again.

While Gronk and Bill Belichick were understandably giddy after the Patriots’ Super Bowl LIII conquest, the former has long been unhappy about his contract.

Agreed to in 2012, Gronk’s deal paid him well below market value for a player with his gifts. At his best, no tight end was on the same level. Yet some out-earned him. Elite wide receivers were earning millions more than Gronk, who arguably impacted games more than any skill-position player for a while. This led to frequent acrimony, two incentive packages — one of which he attained — along with 2018 retirement talk and a general disenchantment toward the Patriot Way.

Will the Patriots want Gronk back? Although he has been underpaid, his contract jumps to a career-high $11.859MM cap figure in 2019. His 2018 numbers — 52.5 receiving yards per game, three touchdowns — were well south of almost anything he posted in his previous eight seasons. Considering Gronkowski’s attitude about his deal in the past, it would be incredibly unlikely he would take a pay cut to stay with the Patriots. The Pats nearly traded him to the Lions last year, prompting a retirement threat.

With Gronk having slowed down, it is fair to wonder if the Patriots ($16.1MM in projected cap space, prior to an expected Brady extension) would want to carry his contract-year cap number on their payroll. That said, Gronkowski remains one of the league’s best tight ends. He came through with big playoff catches en route to the franchise’s latest championship. Brady’s late-career renaissance can be closely tied to Gronkowski’s incomparable presence, and although the four-time first-team All-Pro was out during the bulk of the Pats’ 2016 title run, Martellus Bennett was there to help. The Patriots do not have a comparable alternative on their current roster.

So, will the future Hall of Fame tight end call it quits? Or were these productive playoff games a springboard to at least one more season? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots’ Gronk To Make Decision Soon

We’re still waiting for Rob Gronkowski‘s decision on his football future, but we won’t have to wait much longer. The tight end says he’ll make the call “in a week or two,” (via Jim Trotter of NFL.com).

When pressed about his plans, Gronk said that Sunday night was dedicated to celebrating the Super Bowl victory with his teammates. He’s been wrestling with retirement for a while now, however, and that’s partially due to his injury history. He emerged from Super Bowl LIII without suffering further injury and Tom Brady swears that he’ll be back in 2019 – both of those factors may push Gronk towards returning for the 2019 season.

In 2018, Gronkowski played through Achilles tendonitis and a bulging disc in his back. He has also been forced to suit up with a Barry Bonds-type arm brace to protect his left elbow.

Gronkowski is due a $9MM base salary next season, the last year of his current deal. It has been rumored that Gronkowski is eyeing a post-football career that includes acting and/or something fitness-related, but those opportunities should still be there for him after the ’19 campaign.

The 29-year-old (30 in May) was limited to just 47 catches for 682 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games season. The Rams did their best to keep a lid on him on Sunday, but he finished out with six catches for 87 yards, including a crucial red zone catch that led to the game’s only TD.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.