Rob Gronkowski

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.

No Rob Gronkowski Retirement Decision Expected Tonight

Tonight’s Super Bowl may be the last NFL game for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, but do not expect him to confirm his intentions one way or another right away. Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Gronk does not plan to make an announcement in the immediate aftermath of the Super Bowl, and Florio’s source suggests that the 29-year-old will spend some time considering his options.

We have recently heard that Gronkowski may be leaning towards retirement, and part of that is due to his rather significant injury history. Indeed, Florio writes that there are two primary factors that will influence Gronk’s decision: whether Gronkowski emerges from Super Bowl LIII healthy, and whether Tom Brady makes good on his vow to return for 2019.

The latter seems to be a given in light of everything we have heard about Brady’s intentions going forward, but Gronk’s health is a bigger question. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes that Gronkowski’s relative lack of production this season can be at least partially attributed to the Achilles tendonitis and the bulging disc in his back that he battled in 2018, but that he is feeling 100 percent today.

Gronkowski is due a $9MM base salary next season, the last year of his current deal, and it’s not as though the post-football career he anticipates won’t be there for him in 2020 if he chooses to play in 2019. Contrary to previous reports, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says that, while Gronkowski is not sure what he wants to do when he’s done playing football, he believes it will somehow be tied to the world of fitness.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Rumors: Gordon, McDaniels, Gronk

Here’s a look at the Patriots as they get set for the Super Bowl:

  • The Patriots are gearing up for the Super Bowl in Atlanta, but Josh Gordon is miles away at an inpatient facility in Florida, a source tells Doug Kyed of NESN.com. The Patriots are paying for Gordon’s treatment, which may be a sign that a return is possible. For what it’s worth, the receiver will get a ring if the Pats are victorious on Sunday.
  • Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says he regrets his handling of the Colts situation last year, as Charean Williams of PFT writes. “It’s a lot that goes into it,” McDaniels said. “I think at the end of the day you have to make the best decision for yourself and your family. I’ve said this a number of times: The timing of all that stuff was not. . . . I wasn’t proud of any of that stuff.” McDaniels likely paid the price for his flip-flop in this past cycle. There were eight head coaching vacancies, but McDaniels only landed an interview with the Packers and declined to speak with the Bengals.
  • The Rob Gronkowski retirement chatter is picking up steam again, but the tight end pretty much offered a no-answer when asked if the Super Bowl will be his last game. “I don’t know,” Gronkowski said when asked about his plans (via PFT).

AFC Notes: Patriots, Gronk, Colts

The Patriots are heading to the Super Bowl, and Super Bowl LIII might be the final game for Rob Gronkowski. We’ve heard for a while now that Gronkowski is considering retirement even more seriously than he did last season, and we got even more confirmation of that today. There is a “strong possibility” that Gronkowski retires this offseason in order to pursue an acting career, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter video). He’s flirted with retirement in the past, but given his declining on field production this year for the Patriots, it feels more real. If it really is the end for Gronk, he’ll go down as one of, if not the, best tight end in NFL history.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • It’s been reported that GM Chris Ballard would like the Colts to add another talented wide receiver to pair with T.Y. Hilton, but don’t expect them to be in on the Antonio Brown sweepstakes this offseason, writes Stephen Holder of The Athletic. It’s unclear if the Steelers would even want to deal Brown to Indianapolis, as they’d likely prefer to trade him out of conference to the NFC.
  • Adam Gase has already hired Gregg Williams to be his defensive coordinator with the Jets, but the team still has a vacancy at offensive coordinator. “All signs point to” Gase bringing in Dowell Loggains to be his new OC, according to Daryl Slater of NJ.com. Loggains has worked under Gase both in Chicago and Miami, so it’s not surprising he’s tagging along to the Big Apple. Either way, Gase will likely be the offensive play-caller in New York.
  • Speaking of the Jets, Slater writes separately in the same post that Josh McCown is “definitely not coming back” next year. McCown became a fan favorite during the 2017 season when he helped the team beat expectations as the starter, and got a lot of praise for his work mentoring Sam Darnold this past year. But his ties were to Todd Bowles and the previous coaching staff, and with Gase now in charge, he’s apparently unlikely to spend a second straight year mentoring.

Rob Gronkowski Leaning Towards Retirement?

Last year, Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski contemplated retirement. This year, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Gronk will once again consider hanging up the cleats, but this time, there is a better chance he will actually walk away from the game.

Before the 2018 draft, New England reportedly had a trade in place that would have sent Gronkowski to the Lions, but when Gronk learned of that news, he threatened to retire rather than play for another club. Of course, there has been some drama between Gronkowski and the Patriots for several years now, some of which may be attributed to the fact that Gronkowski believes he is severely underpaid.

Regardless of the source of tension, we heard at the end of last month that Gronkowski had grown tired of the “Patriot Way,” and underpaid or not, he is financially set. Plus, thanks to his effusive personality, he will have some sort of career outside of football if he so chooses.

The 29-year-old has once again battled injuries throughout the course of the 2018 campaign, and Rapoport says sources close to Gronk have said the season has taken an emotional toll on him. He certainly has not played up to his usual standards, with just three scores and a yards-per-game mark of 52.5 that is higher only than his rookie season figure of 34.1. Teams have largely stopped double-teaming him, and he just does not look like his usual explosive self.

So it would not be surprising to anyone if Gronkowski calls it a career and starts the next chapter of his life whenever the Patriots’ season ends.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Gronkowski, Patriots, Peterson, Schaub, Wright

Rob Gronkowski is arguably the greatest tight end of all time, and as the regular season winds down, we could be seeing the end of Gronk in a Patriots uniform, opines Tom Curran of NBC Sports. Curran breaks down all the drama between Gronkowski and the New England front office regime over the past couple of years, and thinks that the fact that Gronkowski has been severely underpaid for years played the main role in the thawing of the relationship.

Both sides are unhappy with one another, and the Patriots already tried trading Gronkowski this offseason. Given that they already deemed him non-essential before the season began it won’t be at all surprising if they want to move on at the end of the year, and it’s highly possible Gronkowski will want to move on as well, as Curran writes he’s grown tired of the ‘Patriot Way.’ Curran thinks the writing is on the wall that things are coming to an end, and Gronk is having a very disappointing season by his lofty standards. His body has been breaking down, and he hasn’t been his usual game-breaking self most times this season. If it is indeed the end, it’ll be an end of an era in Foxborough.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • On the subject of the Patriots, the team brought in CFL players defensive back Tevaughn Campbell and receiver Jordan Williams-Lambert for workouts, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN (Twitter link). Since CFL players aren’t eligible to be signed until after the season, these workouts are likely for consideration for reserve/futures contracts to be handed out in 2019.
  • While he’s already rewritten the rule book about what a running back can do at his age, Adrian Peterson isn’t done yet. The 33-year-old future Hall of Famer wants to continue playing, and wants to be back with the Redskins next year,per Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. Signed at the last minute when Derrius Guice went down with a torn ACL, Peterson has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 NFL season, rushing for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s slowed down a bit as the season has gone on, but Washington could bring him back as a veteran mentor and change of pace option behind Guice.
  • Speaking of veterans who want to keep playing, quarterback Matt Schaub hopes to be back with Falcons next year, according to Matt Winkeljohn of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Schaub is aware his NFL career might be coming to an end, as most teams are trending toward having younger players as their backups. But the 37-year-old signal caller, once one of the league’s better starting quarterbacks, hopes to be back in the place where he’s taken on a coach-like role behind Matt Ryan. If he does end up hanging up his cleats, Schaub said he wants to stay “around sports in some form or fashion whether it’s trying to do broadcasting or with an organization somehow.”
  • While the Panthers were officially eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16, at least one player did get some good news. Receiver Jarius Wright got a $200K bonus for hitting his catch incentives, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). So far this season the 2012 fourth round pick out of Arkansas has 41 catches for 427 yards and a touchdown. He should be back in Carolina next year at his $2.5MM salary.

Patriots Notes: Gronk, Brady, Burkhead

Last week, the Patriots dropped running back Kenjon Barner even though rookie Sony Michel is still limited in practice with a knee injury. That may indicate that the Pats believe Rex Burkhead will return to action in early December, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes.

Burkhead has not been seen since the third week of the season when he suffered a concussion, but he returned to practice on Nov. 8. Per the league’s IR rules, Burkhead can return to action as early as Dec. 2 against the Vikings.

Michel still figures to be the Patriots’ primary back, but Reiss expects Burkhead to enter the game in every third series. He may also get involved in the passing game after averaging 3.0 catches per game in 2017, though James White will likely lead the charge in that department.

Here’s more from New England:

  • After missing three of the past four games with a back injury, tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to play against the Jets after the bye week, sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Unfortunately, back and ankle trouble has hampered Gronk throughout the year. For the most part, however, he’s been productive when on the field. In seven games, Gronk has 29 catches for 448 yards and one touchdown.
  • Tom Brady is finally showing signs of his age, as Ben Volin of The Boston Globe writes. The 41-year-old superstar is behind the likes of Mitchell Trubisky and Ryan Fitzpatrick in passer rating, his interception rate is its highest since 2011, and he’s struggling mightily against the blitz. Of course, the Patriots would be well-protected against Brady’s decline if they still had Jimmy Garoppolo as his backup. On the plus side, the Patriots did not tie up cap space with a huge extension for the young QB and the trade – in a roundabout way – netted them second-round cornerback Duke Dawson and the Bears’ second-round pick in 2019.

Injury Notes: Gronk, Mack, Pack, Eagles

A third Rob Gronkowski injury absence appears to be in the cards. The Patriots will not deploy their All-Pro tight end to play Sunday against the Titans, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Gronkowski is traveling with the team to Nashville, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (on Twitter), he’s expected to be held out. Gronk missed games against the Bears and Packers but played in Buffalo on the Monday night in between those tilts. He’s been dealing with back and ankle trouble. While the Patriots have been able to win without their top pass-catcher, these repeated absences are obviously a concern for the future Hall of Famer’s availability for New England’s stretch run and potentially his post-2018 NFL future. It’s likely the Pats are attempting to rest Gronk now to hopefully see him healthy for key late-season games and the playoffs, but that can’t be considered a lock given his extensive injury history. Gronkowski hitting his incentive targets may now be unrealistic as well.

Here’s the latest from the Week 10 injury front.

  • Better news for the Bears. They’re in line to have both Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson back on Sunday when they face the Lions, per the Associated Press. Mack is no longer on the injury report after missing the past two Chicago games because of an ankle malady. His defensive player of the year chances took a hit because of this hiatus and Aaron Donald continuing another all-world season but Mack figures to still be in the running and can help a team attempting reach the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
  • The Lions‘ Robinson coverage options will be limited. Darius Slay is out for Week 10, joining guard T.J. Lang in that regard. Slay’s played in each of Detroit’s previous eight games and hasn’t missed time since 2016 but is battling a knee injury. A neck ailment will sideline Lang, who also missed time because of a concussion this season.
  • A tough injury night against the Patriots will have after-effects for the Packers. Kevin King will not play Sunday against the Dolphins because of a hamstring injury. Bashaud Breeland, whom ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky notes appeared to impress the Packers in his Green Bay debut, figures to see more time.
  • Both Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills are going to miss Sunday night’s Eagles-Cowboys game, but Corey Graham will return after missing four games, per Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter). After claiming Cre’Von LeBlanc off waivers earlier this week, surely due to injuries affecting the aforementioned duo, the Eagles have seven corners on their roster.
  • Taco Charlton and Connor Williams aren’t playing for the Cowboys on Sunday. Xavier Su’a-Filo appears to be the choice to replace Williams at left guard for Dallas, per executive VP Stephen Jones (Twitter link). A full-time Texans starter the past two seasons, Su’a-Filo has not played this season. Williams is down with a knee injury.