Rob Gronkowski

East Notes: Patriots, Giants, Jets, Cowboys

Rob Gronkowski will miss out on more than $270K in salary and bonuses as a result of his one-week suspension, but the Patriots tight end could see his finances affected even further due to the ban, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com explains. Under the terms of a restructured contract signed earlier this year, Gronkowski can earn three separate tiers of incentives, all of which are tied to playtime and performance. The top tier — which includes a 90% playtime requirement as one stipulation — could now be nearly impossible to reach, as Gronkowski has played on 83.4% of New England’s offensive snaps thus far (and will obviously see that percentage decrease as a result of next week’s absence).

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo will remain “heavily involved” in the Giants‘ defensive scheme, but secondary coach David Merrit will also see an increased workload, Spagnuolo told reporters, including James Kratch of NJ.com (Twitter link). Spagnuolo, of course, is still New York’s defensive coordinator in addition to interim head coach following the firing of Ben McAdoo, but with gameday responsibilities now on the table, Spagnuolo will almost certainly require assistance. Merritt, for his part, is the Giants’ longest-tenured assistant, as he’s been with the club for 14 years.
  • Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson has continued to have trouble with tardiness, and his one-quarter suspension on Sunday was indeed a result of missed meetings, reports Darryl Slater of NJ.com. Wilkerson, who signed a five-year, $86MM deal last summer, but he’s offered only middling production this season. In 12 games, Wilkerson has managed 2.5 sacks and graded as the NFL’s No. 55 interior defender among 117 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. New York can create $11MM in cap space by releasing Wilkerson this offseason, and a team source said Wilkerson will be “gone,” per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
  • It’s no secret that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was against the NFL extending commissioner Roger Goodell, but now that a deal is officially signed, Jones doesn’t have many avenues to pursue, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If Jones attempts to rip up the contract, Goodell would likely be entitled to a hefty buyout. But Jones could still pursue a legal strategy, especially if he believes the league’s owners were supposed to discuss Goodell’s contract before it became official, per Florio.

Suspension Upheld For Gronk

Appeals officer Derrick Brooks has upheld the one-game suspension of Rob Gronkowski, the league announced. Gronkowski will not dress for Monday night’s game against the Dolphins. Rob Gronkowski (vertical)

Gronk lost his cool after Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White intercepted a pass in his direction. Apparently frustrated with the rookie’s pestering D, Gronkowski hit White after the whistle. Surprisingly, the dirty play did not earn him an ejection, but few were caught off guard by the league’s one-game ban. Gronkowski appealed in an effort to keep himself on the field and potentially save millions of dollars, but it was an uphill battle.

Now that Gronk has officially been ruled out for Monday’s game against Miami, the Patriots may promote Will Tye off of the practice squad to serve as the team’s third tight end. Conversely, they may go out-of-house if they are keen on protecting Tye. If they were to promote Tye for just one game, they’d have to expose him to waivers before re-signing him to the taxi squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Suspends Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been suspended for Week 14, the NFL announced. Gronkowski hit Bills cornerback TreDavious White after he intercepted a pass and fell down on his return. The tight end was, surprisingly, not ejected from the game, but he will pay the price for it nonetheless. Gronkowski plans to appeal, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) hears. "<strong

The Patriots will be without Gronk when they take on the Dolphins on Monday night. He will be eligible to return for Week 15 when the Pats travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.

In his letter to Gronkowski, NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan wrote the following:

Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury. The Competition Committee has clearly expressed its goal of ‘eliminating flagrant hits that have no place in our game.’ Those hits include the play you were involved in yesterday.” ​

There’s never a good time to lose a top weapon like Gronkowski, but the Patriots are in no real danger of missing the playoffs. At 10-2, they hold a virtually insurmountable lead over Buffalo for the AFC East crown. According to the playoff odds at Football Outsiders, the Patriots have a 99.97% chance of reaching the postseason.

However, the ban will hurt Gronkowski’s wallet. Not only will he miss out on $281K in lost salary, but the missed game may also impact his incentives package. The tight end’s contract includes three different tiers of incentives and he may wind up having to settle for the lowest one rather than the second-ranked tier that he was previously on target for. If that’s the case, then the ban may effectively cost him about $2.3MM.

Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister currently stand as the Patriots’ only tight ends on the active roster. Former Giants standout Will Tye is on the practice squad, so he could be in line for a one-week promotion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Gronk, Eli, Barber, Peppers

Although the result of the Patriots-Bills game this afternoon was an expected New England victory, something rather surprising did happen during the fourth quarter of the contest. Up handily by 20 points, Tom Brady threw an interception to cornerback Tre’Davious White. However, when the rookie fell down after his return, tight end Rob Gronkowski clearly hit him in the head while he was just face down on the turf. Gronk was not thrown out because of his malicious action, but Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com was surprised he wasn’t and thinks further punishment could be coming for the star tight end.

Seifert points out in his piece that former NFL referee Dean Blandino said that Gronkowski should have been ejected for the hit and that he could “maybe” be in-line to miss game action for the incident.

The NFL will review the situation over the next 24 hours and see what type or if any discipline is needed. Gronkowski clearly lowered his shoulder into White well after the play was over, seeming upset that the 2017 first rounder picked off Brady in his direction. However, Seifert notes that the 28-year-old doesn’t really have a track record of misbehaving on the field, despite some minor incidents. The league will also take into account that Gronkowski apologized immediately after the game.

While the NFL did levy two-game suspensions to Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree this past week, this situation is clearly different given that there was no history of bad blood between the two players, Though, it’s clear that the Pats All-pro was in the wrong and could miss time or at least get heavily fined because of his actions on the field today.

  • Despite being benched for the remainder of the regular season, Eli Manning remained rather unequivocal when asked if he will suit up for another year in the league, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com“I plan on playing next season,” Manning said twice Sunday after the Giants‘ 24-17 loss to the Raiders. It’s more likely that the veteran signal caller won’t be back with the Giants after what’s transpired this past week. However, that doesn’t mean Manning won’t have his suitors. While he may be 37 years old heading into next season, the two-time Super Bowl winning QB should garner interest from a host of quarterback needy teams. Manning is clearly not the player he once was, but with the need at the position still so high around the league, his track record is tough to come by on the open market. He’s under contract with New York for 2018-19, but the front office could trade him at some point in the offseason or release him before March 18, 2018, when he is due a $5MM roster bonus.
  • The Buccaneers lost their eighth game of the season when the Packers were able to seal the contest in overtime, but running back Peyton Barber was a major bright spot for the team, opines Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. With Doug Martin out due to a concussion, the 23-year-old back carried the ball 23 times for 102 yards. Cummings points out that it was the team’s first 100 yard rushing effort from a tailback since late last season. In his second year since being undrafted out of Auburn, Barber’s performance on Sunday likely earned himself some more chances to impress in the final four weeks of the regular season.
  • Browns rookie safety Jabrill Peppers injured his knee in the team’s game against the Chargers this afternoon, according to Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. Head coach Hue Jackson said that the first round pick will get an MRI tomorrow in order to assess just how serious the injury is. Cleveland has backup safeties Derron Smith and Kai Nacua should Peppers need to miss time.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Gronk, Jets, Allen

Does Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski have a shot at maxing out his 2017 incentives? Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston checked in on Gronk’s deal to see if he can earn as much as $10.75MM this season through bonuses.

Gronk is currently on pace for 72 catches for 1,093 yards and nine touchdowns while playing in 81% of the Patriots’ snaps. Those numbers would put him in line to earn $8.75MM, the second-highest incentive tier. In order to reach the $10.75MM max, he would have to play in 90% of the Pats’ offensive snaps or record 80 catches or 1,200 receiving yards or earn All-Pro recognition. Of course, Gronk’s name recognition could help his All-Pro case, even if he doesn’t satisfy the other triggers for the top incentives package.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Jets love Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, a league source tells Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter). Meanwhile, a Wyoming source tells Miller that the Jets have done more work on him than any other team. The Jets have gotten quality play out of Josh McCown so far this year, but they’ll almost certainly look to the free agent market and/or the draft for younger solutions since McCown will turn 39 in 2018. So far this year, Allen has thrown for 1,658 yards this season with 13 touchdowns against six picks. He has also rushed for 207 yards and five touchdowns off of 84 attempts.
  • Jesse Davis has been doing a decent job at right tackle and that could alter Ja’Wuan James‘ future with the Dolphins, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald (Twitter link) opines. If there’s no discernible difference between the two players, their salaries could be the tiebreaker. James, a 2014 first-round pick, is due $9.341MM through the fifth-year option, but the Dolphins can bail on that obligation before the start of the 2018 league year. It’s possible that James’ injury could be a season-ender, so he may have already played his final game for Miami.

AFC Notes: Pats, Gronk, Brady, Dolphins

The Patriots‘ decision to deactivate Rob Gronkowski for Thursday night’s game could cost him major money at the end of the season, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss points out. Gronkowski has played in 70.5% of the team’s snaps this season, which puts him on pace for the lowest possible incentives tier of $6.75MM. He can still reach the first ($10.75MM) and second tiers ($8.75MM) based on receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, or All-Pro selection, but those markers will also be hard to reach without a certain volume of snaps.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Patriots quarterback Tom Brady suffered what is thought to be an AC joint sprain in his left, non-throwing shoulder, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). He says he’ll play on Sunday against the Jets.
  • The Dolphins are expected to bring back assistant Dave DeGuglielmo to take over as the team’s new offensive line coach, Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).
  • Despite some recent optimism, it’s premature to say that Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams will be ready to make his NFL debut next week, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Cody Latimer, one of the Broncos‘ top special teamers, underwent a blood injection procedure in his right knee and could be out for the next game or so, Mike Klis of 9 News writes. Latimer has excelled as a kick returner so far this year with an average of 28.4 per attempt. He’s also a gunner on punt and kickoff coverage.
  • Former NFL safety Taylor Mays has signed with the CFL’s Roughriders, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The former second-round pick was most recently with the Bengals.

East Rumors: Williams, Patriots, JPP, Jets

Trent Williams has encountered a patella issue, one that caused him to briefly exit Monday night’s Redskins-Chiefs game. The Pro Bowl left tackle will not need surgery to correct the problem, but Williams is “week-to-week,” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Washington has not ruled Williams out for its Week 6 game, per Rapoport. The eighth-year tackle underwent an MRI on Wednesday, and the exam ruled out a long-term injury. A near-future absence would obviously cause issues for the team. Swing tackle Ty Nsekhe is out after undergoing core muscle surgery, so the drop-off if Williams can’t go against the 49ers could be significant.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions, shifting to New England.

  • Rob Gronkowski extended his streak of seasons without 16-game participation to six by missing Thursday night’s Patriots-Buccaneers tilt with a thigh injury, but the Pats expect their all-world tight end back by Week 6, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). The same goes for Rex Burkhead, per Schefter. Burkhead hasn’t played since Week 2, but the team is expecting its newly acquired dual-threat back to be available against the Jets next weekend.
  • Missing Thursday’s game will deprive Gronkowski of collecting the $10.75MM salary the Patriots set as his ceiling on the now-incentive-laden 2017 arrangement. By failing to play in 90 percent of the Pats’ snaps this season, Gronk is in danger of falling to the $8.75MM tier of his contract, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald notes (on Twitter). The 28-year-old tight end could still rise back to that top tier, but he’d have to earn first-team All-Pro honors. That’s obviously still in play for Gronkowski, a three-time All-Pro, but he will have to make it through most of the Pats’ remaining regular-season games to be strongly considered for such acclaim. He will need to play on 80 percent of New England’s snaps this season or total 1,000 receiving yards or 12 touchdowns to earn $8.75MM. The salary drops to $6.75MM if Gronkowski can’t meet one of those benchmarks.
  • A sprained shoulder has put Jason Pierre-Paul‘s Week 5 availability in question, but the Giants defensive end said this issue is not new for him. He intends to play against the Chargers, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post reports. JPP said he’s been dealing with shoulder problem for “a while.” Both Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon missed Thursday’s practice, and with Vernon leaving early with an ankle injury the past two weeks, Big Blue’s other starting defensive end is in danger of missing his first NFL game in a six-season career.
  • The Jets could be down nickel cornerback Juston Burris on Sunday after the No. 3 corner hurt his foot in practice, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. With fellow reserve corner Darryl Roberts unlikely to play in Cleveland, the Jets could be scrambling here if Burris can’t go. New York, though, still has veteran Marcus Williams in the event the younger talents can’t play behind Morris Claiborne or Buster Skrine. A former steady contributor on whom the Jets placed a second-round RFA tender, Williams has not played a defensive snap this season. Both Burris and Roberts have played 90.

Rob Gronkowski Expected To Miss Week 5

The Patriots are likely to be without their top skill-position weapon Thursday night. Rob Gronkowski is not expected to suit up against the Buccaneers, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports Gronkowski will not play.

Gronk is battling a thigh contusion, per Schefter (on Twitter), and the Patriots are expected to hold him out for their short-week assignment in Tampa Bay. The previous reports from the Pats’ south Florida stay indicated Gronkowski was set to play on a snap count, but now he’ll have a two-week break prior to New England’s Week 6 contest against the Jets in New Jersey.

This will mark the sixth straight season in which Gronkowski has missed at least one game. The All-Pro tight end missed eight regular-season games and all three Pats playoff contests last season and missed one game in each of the previous two campaigns. This injury doesn’t sound nearly as serious as the maladies that shelved Gronk in the past, so it’s likely he will return by Week 6.

The Patriots will have a chance to gauge their Dwayne Allen trade more accurately tonight. However, the former Colts tight end has not been a key part of New England’s passing game this season. Allen does not have a reception this season.

While the Patriots navigated their way to a Super Bowl title without Gronk’s services for much of last season, this will be only the second time Tom Brady‘s been without his tight end prodigy and Julian Edelman since Wes Welker‘s exit thrust Edelman to the top slot role in 2013. The other instance — an early-December 2015 game — ended in a Patriots home loss to the Eagles.

Now armed with a weaker defense, the Patriots will likely be forced to turn to their array of receivers to compensate in a reasonably big game against the Bucs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Dolphins, Patriots, Jets, Eagles

The Dolphins have limited options with linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who left the team on Sunday and forced Miami to file am missing person report, but one avenue could be the left squad list, tweets Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. That mechanism would force Timmons’ contract to toll, but only if he doesn’t return to the club within five days of notice, per Beasley. The Dolphins could also suspend Timmons for up to four games for conduct detrimental, a move that would void the remaining guarantees in the veteran defender’s deal, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes.

  • Rob Gronkowski left the Patriots‘ win with a groin injury on Sunday, but the superstar tight end says the issue is “nothing serious,” according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com“Super relieved,” Gronkowski said. “I knew there was nothing really wrong from the beginning, so I’m good.” Despite not playing the fourth quarter, Gronk managed six receptions for 116 yards and one touchdown against the Saints. If Gronkowski does miss time, New England would turn to Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister at tight end.
  • Third-year pro Bryce Petty will be the Jets‘ No. 2 quarterback for the “foreseeable future,” head coach Todd Bowles told reporters, including Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Petty, who drew trade interest over the summer, was inactive in Week 1 as he recovered from a MCL sprain, but he’s now healthy and set as Josh McCown‘s backup. New York has given no indication that it’s comfortable putting 2016 second-round pick Christian Hackenbergh on the field.
  • The Eagles won’t see rookie running back Donnel Pumphrey again this season, as head coach Doug Pederson said Pumphrey’s hamstring tear is a season-ending injury, reports Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Pumphrey was originally thought to be dealing with a four-to-six week issue, meaning he could have been a candidate to return from injured reserve after an eight-week absence. Instead, Philadelphia will go forward with Darren Sproles, LeGarrette BlountWendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement in the backfield.

East Rumors: Jets, Pats, Switzer

Rich Cimini of ESPN.com recently expounded on last week’s discussion of the Jets‘ QB battle, and while he does not believe the team’s insistence that it will be an open competition is a charade, he does reaffirm his (and everyone’s) belief that Josh McCown is the heavy favorite to open the season under center. But in his latest post, Cimini goes into a little more detail as to how he believes the next few months will play out. He believes that, by the end of minicamp in mid-June, McCown will be the clear-cut front-runner and Christian Hackenberg will be the No. 2. When training camp opens, head coach Todd Bowles will remove Bryce Petty from the starting competition, as it’s hard enough to have a competition among two quarterbacks, much less three. Cimini also believes Hackenberg will get plenty of action in the team’s first two preseason games, but that Bowles, with his job on the line, will ultimately give the job to McCown, though Hackenberg will get the nod at some point this year.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions:

  • The Jets picked up tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he was waived by the Buccaneers last September, and while he posted only 10 catches in seven games for New York last season, the team believes the light has finally come on for the former second-round pick. As Cimini writes, ASJ has dropped 25 pounds, he was a diligent participant in the offseason conditioning program, and his performance has caught everyone’s eye at OTAs. Now that the Jets have an offensive coordinator who utilizes the tight end as a pass catcher, ASJ is a dark horse candidate for a breakout season, especially as he enters his contract year.
  • Mike Reiss’ of ESPN.com reports that Andrew Hawkins‘ one-year deal with the Patriots is a minimum salary benefit pact, meaning his base salary will be $900K, his bonus won’t exceed $80K, and his salary cap charge won’t be more than $695K. Reiss says that Hawkins passed up more lucrative opportunities with other clubs because New England was his top choice.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe applauds the Patriots‘ recent decision to add a healthy incentive package to Rob Gronkowski‘s current contract even though they had no need to do so, as he believes it’s simply smart business to keep Gronk healthy and motivated. Volin does wonder, though, whether the incentives will compel Gronkowski to push himself more than he otherwise would throughout the regular season, thereby reducing his effectiveness when the playoffs roll around.
  • Ryan Switzer, whom the Cowboys selected in the fourth round of this year’s draft, took first-team reps as the slot receiver during the first week of OTAs, as Cole Beasley was held out due to hamstring soreness. But as Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News writes, the Cowboys have big plans for Switzer even when Beasley returns, and they are working on packages for both to be on the field at the same time. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of Switzer, “He’s a classic slot receiver. He has a similar game [to Beasley], but he has his own things. We would really like those two guys to be able to complement each other and run real similar route trees. He complements Beasley and also gives us some big-time needed depth at that position.”