Rob Gronkowski

AFC East Notes: Jets, Williams, Patriots, Gronkowski

When asked whether defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be traded, Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t exactly say no.

I really don’t deal in the hypothetical aspects,” Gase said (Twitter link via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano). “These guys get calls all year round about trades. Really to me that’s not something I’m going to be dealing with unless something’s on the table. I don’t know what other teams are thinking, but right now I like the way our guys are rolling. Anything’s possible, but I like the way our team is.”

Other teams, predictably, are interested in the former No. 6 overall pick. Meanwhile, it has been speculated that GM Joe Douglas could be willing to part with Williams for third- and fifth-round selections. If that’s the asking price, Williams might not be long for the New York/New Jersey area.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • During an appearance on WEEI, a caller asked former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski point blank if he would return to the NFL. “I’ll give an answer,” Gronkowski replied. “When I retired, I retired for a reason: because I needed to step away. So it would be a no. There it isI never say no, because I’ve said no, and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s kidding. He’s coming back.’ But it’s a no. In my mind, that’s how it is. It’s a no.” Sounds pretty definitive, but Pats owner Robert Kraft is far from convinced.
  • Ben Watson is back with the Patriots, in part because tight end Matt LaCosse is dealing with an MCL sprain (Twitter link via Mike Giardi of NFL.com). LaCosse played through the Giants game last Thursday night, but his availability for this week against the Jets is in doubt.
  • Speaking of Watson – his new, prorated one-year deal with the Patriots is worth $800K fully guaranteed, plus $140K in incentives (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). That’s a solid payday, considering that he already made $686K off of his original 2019 pact with the Pats.
  • Defensive tackle Steve McLendon’s one-year extension with the Jets is worth $3MM, with $1.65MM in new guarantees, per Pelissero.

AFC East Notes: Gronk, Patriots, Jets

Three-time Super Bowl Champ and new FOX Sports Analyst Rob Gronkowski has left open the possibility of a return at some point, while Robert Kraft also seemed to welcome a potential return while speaking on FOX this past Thursday. However, the timing could be tough for any return this season, relays Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

Per NFL contract rules, Gronkowski would have to apply for reinstatement by December 7th, before the Patriots’ week 14 matchup against the Chiefs, to be eligible to play at all in the 2019 regular season or postseason. He is currently on the league’s reserve /retired list, and there are specific regulations that apply to his situation, since he was placed on that roster designation prior to the start of training camp.

According to a league source, La Canfora goes on to state that a player on the reserve/retired list who requested reinstatement prior to the trade deadline, which is October 29th of this season, would have to be granted that opportunity. If a player on the reserve/retired list requested reinstatement after the deadline but up until the last business day prior to the club’s 13th game, the team would have the option of accepting or declining the request. Certainly, the Patriots would welcome back Gronkowski with open arms if he elected to return at any point this season.

Here’s more from the Patriots and AFC East:

  • Despite the Antonio Brown issues, the return of both 2019 first-round pick wide receiver N’Keal Harry and 2018 first-round pick tackle Isaiah Wynn from injured reserve may might turn out to be the most important “acquisitions” of all, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. Harry, who injured his leg in the preseason and was placed on IR on September 2nd, is eligible to begin practicing this week. If the Patriots “start the clock” on him, Harry would be eligible to play for the first time November 3rd against the Ravens. Wynn was placed on IR with a foot/toe injury on September 17th, so he’s not eligible to begin practicing until October 26th and couldn’t play until after their bye week November 17th against the Eagles. He’s the team’s best left tackle, and it isn’t very close. On Friday, he was seen attending regular meetings with his fellow linemen.
  • Despite much maligned Jets quarterback Luke Falk being waived this week, he gets paid for the week based on the timing, and according to Jason Fitzgerald of the Sporting News, he would not be stunned if he is back on the practice squad or active roster next week. Fitzgerald speculates that the Jets did not want Falk active this week in the event Sam Darnold was unable to play, due to negative fan reception. The Jets opted to bring back David Fales to back up Darnold today against the Cowboys.

Extra Points: Gronk, Patriots, WRs, Draft

Rob Gronkowski debuted as a FOX analyst Thursday night, but his former job continues to come up. Robert Kraft has yet to give up hope on the future Hall of Fame tight end returning to the Patriots.

We all love Gronk, and I think the bottom line is he hasn’t put his retirement papers in,” Kraft said during an NFL Network appearance (Twitter link). “We can always pray and hope …. That’s a good academic argument that there is hope for us still with Gronk.”

The 30-year-old New England icon has continually denied he wants to come out of retirement but refuses to completely slam the door on a possible 10th season. Gronkowski said during his intro FOX broadcast he will “always keep the door open” for a Pats return. He said in August he was healthy enough to play. The team lost Josh Gordon in the first half of tonight’s game, and although it does not seem like the injury is serious — Gordon is questionable to return — the Pats’ offense is not as well-rounded as it was when Gronk created constant mismatches.

Here is the latest from around the league and the 2020 draft:

  • The Patriots’ high-profile attempt at bringing in a Gronk-level talent ended with Antonio Brown‘s release after 11 days. Brown remains accused of sexual misconduct by two women. The first, Britney Taylor, refiled her civil suit against the unemployed wide receiver in Florida state court, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Taylor’s attorneys categorize this as a strategic move and indicated new counsel has joined the case. A league investigation is ongoing as well. No team has been closely connected to the 31-year-old superstar since the Patriots cut him last month.
  • As for elite wideouts still in the league, evaluators shared some interesting views in a piece by The Athletic similar to its quarterback-tiers arrangement. Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill join Julio Jones on the top tier here, with NFL personnel viewing DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas as high-second-tier talents (subscription required). Hopkins’ penchant for contested catches prompted one OC to indicate the fear factor surrounding the Texans wideout is not the same as it is when game-planning for Jones or Beckham.
  • Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses is set to miss all of his junior season because of a knee injury, but the might-have-been first-round talent still has NFL supporters should he declare for the 2020 draft. A group of NFL evaluators view Moses as being a second- or third-round prospect in 2020, Mike Rodak of al.com notes. Moses would be one of many Crimson Tide draftees in the 2020 draft, should he declare, with ESPN.com’s Todd McShay ranking six Alabama standouts in his top 30.

Rob Gronkowski Joins FOX

Rob Gronkowski is returning to football, but not in the way that you might have hoped. Gronk will join FOX’s broadcast team for Sunday NFL broadcasts, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link) hear. 

Gronk retired this offseason, leaving a void in the Patriots’ offense. Granted, the Pats are still 5-0 without him, and even discarded Ben Watson before he could return from his suspension, but any offense would be bolstered by the presence of the future Hall of Famer.

Since retiring, Gronkowski has been open about his own openness to return to the game, eventually.

My body feels good. I can even take it further physically, and I could play right now,” Gronkowski said in August.

Then again:

Mentally, the desire to play just isn’t there. I would have to literally just feel that desire – just feel that mentally, that desire to play, to be back out there,” Gronk said. “Like someone is calling my name, I would have to feel that inside. I would have to feel that on a consistent basis. That’s the way I would entertain coming back to football.”

For the time being, the broadcast booth is as close as Gronk will get to the gridiron.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Gronk, Alonso, Clowney

Ever since Rob Gronkowski announced his decision to retire, rumors have swirled of a potential comeback to the Patriots. Gronk himself hasn’t done much to tamp down the speculation, notably leaving the door open in a press conference a few days ago. The legendary tight end recently did an interview with Jeff Howe of The Athletic, and dropped even more hints that he’d be ready to play. “My body feels good. I can even take it further physically, and I could play right now,” Gronkowski said.

However, he also cautioned that his heart isn’t in it right now when asked what it would take to get him to come back. “Mentally, the desire to play just isn’t there. I would have to literally just feel that desire – just feel that mentally, that desire to play, to be back out there. Like someone is calling my name, I would have to feel that inside. I would have to feel that on a consistent basis. That’s the way I would entertain coming back to football.” The former Patriots star also revealed that he currently weighs about 20 pounds less than his usual playing weight, although he did say it would be “easy” to put it back on.

Here’s more from the AFC East on a busy day around the league:

  • We heard last weekend that the Dolphins were shopping linebacker Kiko Alonso, and now we have more details. It was apparently Alonso who requested a trade during training camp, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Rival organizations reportedly expect Alonso to be cut, which is hurting his trade value. Miami is starting completely fresh with new coach Brian Flores, and many of the team’s veterans are getting purged. Both sides apparently want to move on, so it would be a shock at this point if Alonso is on the team in 2019. Originally drafted by the Bills in the second-round back in 2013, Alonso has started at least 15 games in all three of his years as a Dolphin. He has two more years left on his four-year, $28.9MM deal.
  • It looks like Jadeveon Clowney won’t be going to the Dolphins, but they aren’t the only AFC East team interested. The Jets are apparently in the mix too, although you shouldn’t count on them landing the former first overall pick. Although New York is interested, “there may be far too many obstacles on both sides” to complete a deal, writes Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “I’m not sure how much the Jets really want him, or how much (Clowney) wants them,” one rival exec told Vacchiano. “It’s hard to see Joe (Douglas, the Jets GM) going crazy for a player like him, especially just for a year. It doesn’t look like there’s a match.” Clowney’s reported preferred destinations are Seattle or Philadelphia.
  • Good news for the Bills, as Mitch Morse has officially cleared the concussion protocol, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Bills made upgrading the offensive line a priority this offseason, and Morse was one of their biggest acquisitions. He’s been dealing with this concussion for most of the summer, so this is great news that he’s been cleared. Morse has a history of concussions, and other injuries have limited him to just 18 games over the past two years. When healthy, he’s one of the best centers in the league, and he should provide a big boost for Josh Allen.

Rob Gronkowski On Retirement, Possible Return

Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski made waves on Tuesday morning when he publicly hinted at a potential return to football. Things turned emotional during Gronk’s promotional presser, and he gave some further insight into his decision to retire and what might draw him back to the NFL. 

Here’s a look at some of the highlights, via ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss.

On his physical condition:

Physically, I could play right now.”

On why he retired:

I want to be clear to my fans. I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn’t like it. I was losing that joy in life.

On when he knew he would retire:

I got done with [Super Bowl LIII] and I could barely walk. I slept five minutes that night. I couldn’t even think. I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn’t make that much sense to me. And then, for four weeks, I couldn’t even sleep for more than 20 minutes a night. I was like, ‘Damn, this sucks.’ It didn’t feel good. It was one of the biggest, deepest thigh bruises I’ve ever gotten.”

On the thought process behind his retirement:

It’s a purpose to have passion in my life, to have joy in my life. And then to inspire optimal health within myself, I need to do that in order to get to a peak and then I can bring it to other people. Because I know [in] the NFL, players are dealing with that kind of stuff, they’re dealing with pain. I was. And I needed to walk away because I needed to do what was best for myself.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rob Gronkowski Leaves Door Open For Return

When Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski retired from the NFL this year, few believed that he would stay off the field. Now, Gronk personally admits that a return to football could be in his future. 

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At a press conference to promote his new partnership with a CBD company, Gronk said that he’ll play football again if he’s feeling better and recovered from his injuries at some point (Twitter link via Doug Kyed of NESN). That could be the case in six months, or two years, he says, though he can’t envision an NFL return in the next week or month.

Gronkowski went on to say that he “didn’t retire from life” and could consider suiting up again if he finds that he has that fire “week-in and week-out,” (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). At the same time, Gronk suggested that he would be alright with never stepping on the gridiron again.

Physically, I could do it. But mentally, it’s not there. … If I’m just enjoying my life… maybe never,” Gronk said.

With enough cash to support generations of Gronkowskis and opportunities to make money elsewhere, the game’s most talented tight end has plenty of options. Still, he’s not ready to rule out a second act with the Patriots.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Gronkowski, Dolphins

It looks like Bills tight end Tyler Kroft isn’t going to be ready for the start of the regular season. Buffalo signed Kroft to a three-year, $18.75MM deal back in March, and he was supposed to be their starter. He then broke his foot during OTAs, and the initial timelines had him coming back sometime right around the start of the regular season. He apparently isn’t too close to returning, as he hasn’t done any on-field work yet, according to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic (Twitter link). Buscaglia adds that it’s “looking more and more likely” that Kroft opens the year on the PUP list.

If he does start the season on PUP, Kroft will have to miss at least Buffalo’s first six games. That’s not welcome news for the Bills, as they don’t have a ton of experience at the position. Kroft showed some potential during his four years with the Bengals, but an injury to the same foot limited him to just five games last season. In 2017, he had 42 catches for 404 yards and seven touchdowns. Kroft’s injury may end up opening up opportunities for rookie Dawson Knox, who the Bills drafted in the third round back in April. Buffalo also has veteran Lee Smith on the roster, although he’s always been a blocker and has barely ever contributed as a receiver.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of Bills rookies, running back Devin Singletary seems to be developing nicely. After a visit to Bills camp and speaking with members of the organization, Albert Breer of SI.com writes that Singletary has “picked up enough to be a three-down back right away” (Twitter link). The Bills drafted Singletary, a Florida Atlantic product, 74th overall. The only thing standing in his way now is that the Bills have a crowded backfield, with Frank Gore, LeSean McCoy, and T.J. Yeldon also in tow. To that end, Breer writes that he expects Buffalo “to get trade calls” on their running backs. Over his last two seasons at FAU, Singletary rushed for 3,266 yards and a whopping 54 touchdowns.
  • There’s nothing former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski can do to convince people he’s really retired. As Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes about his retirement, “few people are taking it seriously.” Volin has a new piece where a handful of former players and coaches all offer their view that Gronk might not really be done after all. The legendary tight end has insisted he’s enjoying his time away from the game, but Volin writes that “few people believe that Gronk won’t at least strongly consider coming out of retirement this fall.” It’s hard to speculate one way or the other, but he still is only 30. It’s impossible to predict, but it certainly wouldn’t be shocking if he comes back for one more ride.
  • When the Dolphins drafted Minkah Fitzpatrick 11th overall last year, they knew he wasn’t going to have one set position. He’s been moved around a good amount, and Fitzpatrick might be a little frustrated with how the new coaching staff has been using him. Fitzpatrick’s mom recently took to Twitter to respond to a beat writer’s tweet that he was playing poorly, arguing the coaches shouldn’t be playing him at strong safety, according to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald. Asked about it after practice, Fitzpatrick said “she’s being honest and saying how she feels. There’s nothing wrong with it. I wish she would have addressed me first and talked to me first before it happens, but it is what it is. She feels very strongly.” He then also indicated he more or less agrees with her assessment, saying “she’s not wrong.” Per Beasley, the Dolphins plan to use Fitzpatrick “all over the field” in 2019.

AFC East Rumors: Gronk, McCoy, Fins, Jets

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.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Gronk, Jets, Anderson

Will Rob Gronkowski come out of retirement to rejoin the Patriots? There’s a “40% chance” of that happening, a source close to the tight end tells Mike Florio of PFT.

Much has been made about Gronkowski’s apparent weight loss, but the tight end claims that he’s lost only 18 pounds since the Super Bowl. Assuming that only a fraction of that weight is muscle mass, it might not be hard for Gronk to get back into football shape, should he decide to retake the gridiron.

Florio speculates that a direct appeal from Tom Brady to Gronkowski could convince the veteran to give it one more go. Furthermore, while coach Bill Belichick isn’t crazy about players cherry picking their activity participation, he believes that Belichick has taken a softened stance and would not stand in the way of Gronkowski rejoining the team later this year.

While we wait to see what happens with everyone’s favorite party animal, here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson can cash in with a huge 2019 season, Brian Costello of the New York Post writes. Anderson had 50 catches for 752 yards and six touchdowns in 14 games last year. More importantly, he averaged 15 yards per catch and showed that he is one of the best deep threats in the league. New coach Adam Gase has already said that he wants to better utilize Anderson’s blazing speed, so he could set himself up for a sizable payday in 2020.
  • This week, the Jets added to their analytics department with the hire of Matt Sheldon as their new director of football research and strategy (Twitter link via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com). Sheldon held the same title under Adam Gase with the Dolphins in ’17 and ’18. It’s a sign that the Jets are putting greater emphasis on advanced stats and also another sign of Gase’s serious influence in the organization.