…ok, so now we have an answer. Rob Gronkowski is done.
As the weeks have gone on since the Super Bowl in early February, I honestly thought that there was a decent chance he would be back for at least one more year. One more run at yet another Super Bowl. I just figured the longer Gronk hadn’t made a decision, the better the chance that Tom Brady got in his ear and convinced him to come back.
I guess not.
But can you blame him?
Gronk was a shell of himself last season. We will never know specifics because it’s, you know, the Patriots. But it appears that he was battling several different injuries during the year. Of course, the beating he took over the years likely played some role in his reduced numbers as well.
So was all of that going to get any better? Unlikely. And he knew it. WE knew it. Some of us just didn’t want to admit it.
He’s walking away from the game while he can still…walk. People talk about this kind of stuff all the time, but this would seem to apply to Gronk more than any other player, no?. How many back surgeries has he had? And all the various other operations?
Listen, any player is the proverbial “one hit away” from not only a career-ending injury but a possible life-altering one as well. Based on Gronk’s lengthy medical history, could one say that he would be more susceptible to something like that? Can’t discount that line of thinking.
On top of all the surgeries and all the rehab he has had to do throughout his career, spanning back to college as well, perhaps he also couldn’t bear to see himself become a lesser player? Everyone loses skills as they age, but did Gronk want to become what someone like Antonio Gates has become? Playing a handful of downs and catching significantly less passes with each passing season? Not to mention becoming more of a blocker as New England seemingly is becoming more of a running team as other skill players such as Tom Brady and Julian Edelman age as well?
Can’t imagine any of those prospects were very appealing to Gronk, even if the team continued to win…and win Super Bowls at that.
I’m not sure we as fans would like the prospect of watching Gronk deteriorate on the field either. It was tough enough to watch him last season.
So let’s celebrate the career of Rob Gronkowski and wish him well going forward. He was perhaps the best tight end to ever play the game. Definitely a Hall of Famer despite the truncated career, probably even a “first ballot” one.
I just personally hope we don’t now see him in something like the WWE, or some D-level movies or the like and watch him end up turning into some sort of laughingstock.
I suppose he doesn’t give a rat’s arse what we think though…
For Robert Kraft?
You guys can talk about Kraft on your own time. Plenty of talk radio action on that, I am sure.
I know, he is the “flavor of the week”. And I suppose his “situation” is newsworthy, to some degree. To the degree of “what the F are you doing, you couldn’t have been more discreet about this?” anyway. That’s how I see it.
Listen, whatever the old man wants to do on his own time is up to him as far as I’m concerned. The guy was married for like 50 years for Chrissakes. But more importantly, he has done a lot of good in his life. Despite having plenty of money lining his own pockets. If he wants to partake in some consensual “fun”, all the power to him.
Now, if Kraft were involved in any way of participating in human trafficking, then that is an entirely different story. But I’m not aware of any evidence being turned up on that. Yet anyway.
Other than that, why the hell are we even talking about it? Kraft has suffered some embarrassment, that is for sure. But I’m also sure he likely doesn’t give much of a rat’s arse.
In any event, the question posed in the title was supposed to reflect the upcoming free agency period for the New England Patriots. I know, the Super Bowl pretty much just happened. But the offseason movements are coming soon. Time to get ready.
Let’s take a look at the roster as it currently stands. That includes everyone that ended the year on the injured list and any of the practice squad guys that were signed to futures contracts. As well as the guys who are due to become free agents.
We will talk a little about the salary cap. I know, the NFL salary cap is fraudulent and can be manipulated any way you like. But we will just go on theoretically what the cap implications could be.
Per usual, we will do it by position:
Under contract: Tom Brady, Danny Etling
Unrestricted free agents: None
In limbo: Brian Hoyer
What I would do: Hoyer is under contract, but in limbo I feel because he counts 3 million against the cap next season. Hoyer is Brady’s good buddy, but do the Pats need to pay him that much to do nothing all year? I mean, if Brady gets hurt and has to miss time, Hoyer can hold the fort in the regular season sure. But the Pats ain’t winning a Super Bowl with Hoyer at the helm. I’d slash his salary. You would think he would be agreeable, especially since no one else in the league is handing him a starting job. I know, do we want to tick off Brady over pinching pennies? Maybe not. But I think they should look into it.
Etling can stay…for now. With 12 picks in the upcoming draft, it may be a good time to draft the ACTUAL QB of the future though. And if Brady is serious about playing 3 or more years, maybe it’s time to extend him and drop his 27 million cap hit. Maybe 2 more years, not 3 or 4. But even if you do 4 more years and it’s basically throwing money away at the end, we could probably live with it since it’s Brady after all. He’s earned it.
What the team will probably do: Extend Brady, keep Hoyer at his current cap hit, keep Etling and yes, I’m thinking they take a QB this year with more upside than Etling and someone who has a real shot at being the franchise QB after Brady. First rounder? Doubtful. But with several picks in Round 2 and 3, a spot there has to be considered a real possibility.
Under contract: Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, James White, James Develin (FB)
Unrestricted free agents: Jeremy Hill
In limbo: None
What I would do: Re-sign Hill if healthy after he tore his ACL in the first game of last season. If not Hill, another comparable veteran back. Same difference. Someone that may have once been good and still maybe can be…but will be cheap. Other than that, no need to do much else here. Maybe draft a kid for the practice squad as well.
What the team will probably do: Likely the same thing I would do. Burkhead, Michel and White form a pretty good trio, when healthy. That’s the biggest issue, health, specifically for Burkhead and Michel. That’s why you need the extra back, preferably a veteran. Maybe that kid too, but not another first rounder for sure.
Under contract: Julian Edelman, Darren Andrews, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson
Unrestricted free agents: Phillip Dorsett, Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron
In limbo: Josh Gordon (restricted free agent), Cody Hollister (exclusive rights free agent)
What I would do: LOAD UP!! All kidding aside, receiver is a huge need. Stating the obvious, I know. Just look at the names. Edelman is under contract for only 2019 as well. Perhaps a short extension is in order? Berrios got some props last preseason, but I didn’t see it. Andrews and D. Patterson? Whatever.
3 bodies, at least, need to be brought in. And good bodies at that. Not Dorsett, Hogan or C. Patterson. Look, if you wanted to bring Cordarrelle back as a #5 guy, I wouldn’t complain. He can be that gadget guy again. But not for the 3 mil he earned last year I would say. Even bringing Gordon back as an extra piece wouldn’t bother me. “Extra piece” cuz you sure as hell can’t count on him.
Golden Tate said “he would love to play for the Patriots”. Of course he would. He’s a free agent. He’d love to play anywhere right now. That being said, him as a #3 here? Sign me up. Someone like Danny Amendola at #4? Sure. But you need a #1/#2 to match with Edelman. Odell Beckham Jr? Hmmmmmmm…I’d consider it. If any team can rein that jackwagon in, it’s the Patriots. But someone of that ilk would be nice.
High draft picks? I don’t know. Rumors are that the team is meeting a whole slew of highly regarded college receivers at the NFL Combine going on now. Meetings are nice. But Belichick’s track record of drafting wide receivers is not.
Even though that with the drafting of Michel and the extension of Burkhead last year and how the team played a lot of ball control in the playoffs en route to the Super Bowl victory may lead to the conclusion that the Pats will continue to run the ball more as Brady gets older, they still need major upgrades at receiver to keep the offense rolling. They don’t need Randy Moss, Part II. But they need reliable dudes.
What the team will probably do: There were rumors that the Pats pushed hard for Beckham at the trade deadline last season. But it would still shock me if they went in that direction in the coming weeks. Or Antonio Brown either, though there is pretty much zero chance the Steelers will send him to New England.
Tate? Maybe. But not if he wants too much money.
I’m thinking they will load up on bodies, like last summer, and see who sticks. There is probably a good chance Dorsett and Cordarrelle will be back…unless someone wildly overpays for Patterson. Seems unlikely, but you never know. Dorsett they apparently are already talking to. Hogan is likely gone, but we will probably be looking at another summer of Kenny Britt’s and Jordan Mathews’ and the like.
Under contract: Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo
Unrestricted free agents: None
In limbo: Rob Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen
What I would do: This is what I wrote last year, shortly after the free agency period had commenced: “Comments: I do believe we have to take Gronks’ retirement “threats” seriously. Despite being a monster, he has taken quite a beating over his NFL career. And despite all the back surgeries, there is no doubt that the back will always hang over his head at least a little. I’m betting that throwing a little money at him will get him back into the fold mentally though. Isn’t that always the case?
Speaking of money, I am absolutely stunned that Allen is still here. 5 mil against the cap next season. Was he that good a blocker? Is he just hanging around in case Gronk does retire? I don’t see it. That’s money better spent elsewhere. I know Hollister and Tye aren’t appealing backup options if Allen departs. But there has to be someone else out there that is.
Let’s make Gronk happy and find a young tight end somewhere. Not an extremely pressing area of need (unless Gronk walks of course), but definitely a position to keep an eye on.”
Aren’t we in EXACTLY the same boat here? Well, Tye is no longer on the roster, but you get the point.
Gronk had an off-year, with supposedly an Achilles injury to blame as well as…back problems. My belief is that Brady can talk him into one more year if Gronk is up for it. I can totally see that happening. But we are still waiting to see if Gronk will retire, just like last year.
Allen’s salary is still an issue, though for 2019 he will be over 7.3 mil against the cap. Outrageous. Hollister is still unappealing as a backup and I am guessing that Anderson is too.
Izzo, a seventh rounder from last year, could perhaps be that kid they are looking for. He spent all year on injured reserve, likely with some kind of bogus injury to “redshirt” him for the year, similar to Berrios.
I’d talk Gronk into one more year and cut bait with Allen. Give Izzo a shot at a spot, but bring in some competition. Draft one relatively high? Perhaps. I’d even take Allen back if he wants to play for like a million. After Gronk, will any of the other TE, regardless of who they are, make any difference in this offense?
What the team will probably do:
The longer time goes by where Gronk doesn’t retire, the likelihood increases that he will be back. I think Brady talks him into one more go-round. Allen sticks too, believe it or not. But maybe shaves some salary. Hollister’s time may be up, but he, Izzo and Anderson battle for a spot. Perhaps another Izzo type drafted late looking for future depth.
Wouldn’t put it past Bill to draft a TE high. He’s done it before. A lot of mock drafts have them taking one. But that’s when Bill throws us a curve and takes a safety or a running back or something.
Under contract: David Andrews (C), Marcus Cannon (T), Shaq Mason (G), Joe Thuney (G), Isaiah Wynn (T/G), Cole Croston (T), James Ferentz (C), Ted Karras (G/C), Brian Schwenke (C), Dan Skipper (T), Ryker Matthews (T), Jake Eldrenkamp (C)
Unrestricted free agents: LaAdrian Waddle (T), Ulrick John (T), Tony Adams (T)
In limbo: Trent Brown (T)
What I would do: Brown is in limbo because theoretically the Patriots can franchise or transition tag him. I doubt that happens and I would let him walk anyway. Someone is going to pay him huge bucks and he has his ring to boot. Brown played well this year, but I am wary of giving an almost (over?) 400 lb. guy who had underachieved prior to last season an enormous (pun intended) amount of dough. Wynn may be able to replace him. But Brown replaced Nate Solder well enough after only playing right tackle his whole career previously. So Dante Scarnecchia and company can replace Brown probably fairly easily…and cheaper. Bring in a vet to compete with Wynn and then the loser should provide good depth on the line.
I may see if I can extend Thuney, as his contract is done after 2019. Thuney and the other starters have been solid. And the current backups don’t scare anyone. However, even though the team has said since Day One that Wynn is a tackle, maybe he ends up at guard where many projected all along. That would line him up to replace Thuney and then we are still left with getting that left tackle.
Otherwise, just keep bringing in big bodies and continue to improve the depth. Cannon can be a weak link, but he’s locked in for decent dough for the next three years, so replacing him is probably a pipe dream at this point.
What the team will probably do: Make Wynn the left tackle and bring in a lot of fringe vets and maybe a draft pick or three to find out who can provide depth. It seems to be pretty cut and dried here. I mean, look at some of the nobodies they already have signed for the upcoming year.
Next: The Defense.
…surprised? I am a little bit…actually, a lot.
Sure, the New England Patriots have a ton of talent. But, on paper, was it on par with teams like the Los Angeles Rams, the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints? Not so sure about that. Not to mention having to play the AFC Championship Game in Kansas City. With that atrocious (for them) road record this season.
But that’s why they play the games, as they say.
Plus…the Pats have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. So there is that…
Now, Brady didn’t exactly play his best last Sunday. But did he need to? I guess not the way the defense played. And with how putrid Jared Goff looked. Then again, it would have been nice to see some points on the board. And not waiting until about seven minutes left to score a touchdown. But that’s what happens when you don’t give Brady many weapons.
I’m not sure what happened to Chris Hogan this year. Hogan had been a fairly reliable wide receiver during his first two years with the team. But completely disappeared for most of this year. He supposedly fell out of the “Brady Circle of Trust”. But seemingly came back in during the playoffs. Zero for six in the Super Bowl for catches and targets, however. Disgusting. And Phillip Dorsett played a good amount of snaps and no one even saw him on the field I don’t think. James White had one catch on four targets. Surprisingly not part of the game plan in that respect, but apparently was chipping the Rams’ D-linemen often. So we will give him a pass.
Other than that? Just Gronk and Jules. But I guess that is all you need…Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. How could the Rams let those two catch ANYTHING? Have to let those other stiffs beat you, no?
So the Pats won the game…with running and defense? What, was this 2001 all over again?
Hard to believe.
When you look back, the running game wasn’t exactly stout the entire game. 154 yards is a nice total. But it was also misleading.
What wasn’t misleading was the fact that the Patriots ran the ball down the Rams throat when it counted most. Their last drive. After Stephon Gilmore picked off a Goff floater inside their own five yard line with about 4 minutes left and the Pats up 10-3, the running game then took it to another level. They marched down the field running the ball led by a pair of 26 yard runs, one each by Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead. (Though Michel couldn’t get two yards on a third and about a yard and a half, but we won’t nitpick too much).
That drive obviously sealed the game. When is the last time that anyone could say the running game wrapped up a game for the New England Patriots? The Corey Dillon days? Usually, Brady would be throwing screens to guys like Edelman and White to get 3-5 yards and first downs because they couldn’t run the ball. Seemed weird. But it worked.
The Patriot defense? Sure, they played pretty well. But was the performance overrated? Perhaps. Goff was absolutely abysmal, in all aspects. And Todd Gurley can tell anyone he wants that he wasn’t hurt. But that can’t possibly be the case. He HAD to have been hurt. 10 carries in the Super Bowl? A handful in the NFC Championship Game? It’s noble for Gurley to deny his knee was a problem. But we all know it was.
Not having a healthy Gurley was a huge blow for the Rams…and don’t give me “well, C.J. Anderson was lighting it up after they signed him…”. Anderson isn’t Gurley. I think we can all agree on that. A player isn’t on three different teams in one season for no reason.
I’m sure this factor has been talked about ad nauseam this past week. However, I have not been able to listen to a lot of the chatter, unfortunately. But Sean McVay got taken to the woodshed in the game. Simple as that.
According to people who watch film, and all the other information available that has been analyzed and re-analyzed, it appears that the Patriots had two different calls for the defense for every play…or a majority of them anyway. One to show the Rams a look before the 15 second mark on the play clock and another for after the 15 second mark.
Why the 15 second mark? Well, you have all heard about this too. McVay can talk in Goff’s ear until then. After that, the line of communication is shut off. So McVay helped Goff before the time limit, then Goff was helpless thereafter. Because the Patriots changed things up and Goff had no idea what to do.
My main question is: How come no other team has figured that out? I guess teams “do what they do” and don’t strategize to that degree. Kind of a mistake I would say. But then again, when you have the same coach and the same systems in place for almost two decades, I guess that makes it easier for a team to do.
My second question would be: Wow, is Goff really that inept that he can’t figure things out on his own? Makes you wonder if he is really a franchise type guy. Not our problem I guess. But worth noting nonetheless.
So there is your story: Coaching, defense, running game…and maybe a dash of special teams. Stephen Gostkowski did have 7 of the teams’ 13 points after all. Yes, a little shaky. But the job was done nonetheless.
For all those people who thought the game was boring? I understand. If you are not a fan of the teams, I imagine that more offense would have been what you wanted. If you were like most of the country, wanting the Patriots to lose, well, having the Rams score only three points couldn’t have been that exciting for you. And…we know that offense is now the name of the game. See the 54-51 game between the Rams and Chiefs earlier this year.
The fact is, the Patriots should have scored more points. How many times were they into Rams territory with nothing to show for it? Plenty. But defense is still a part of the game. And fans should have been paying attention to that. Wasn’t a boring game for the Blowhard. Then again, being out in a pro-Patriot crowd while enjoying some (many?) adult beverages will often help that, I will allow.
In any event, the New England Patriots are Super Bowl Champions for the 6th time. Deal with it. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: People, for some reason, fail to remember the years before Robert Kraft owned the team. Many failures, few successes, lots of laughable moments. Drug scandals, head coaches in the playoffs creating distractions by taking other jobs before the season is over (Chuck Fairbanks AND Bill Parcells), sexual harassment scandals (Lisa Olson), a bogus roughing the passer call (Sugar Bear Hamilton), the Rod Rust (1-15) era, the Sullivan’s and their decrepit stadium, Matt Millen punching one of the Sullivan’s, James Orthwein, Victor Kiam, etc., etc., etc. The list can go on.
Patriot fans should make no apologies for the past two decades of dominance. Because we all know the other side of it…and how fast things can change going forward. Who knows what this organization will look like once Brady and Belichick retire? I believe that as long as the team remains under the Kraft’s ownership (which should be a significant amount of time, as undoubtedly Jonathan Kraft will take over for his father Robert at some point), I expect no 2-14 or 1-15 seasons. But that does not mean they will continue winning Super Bowls.
Let’s enjoy this run, ignore the haters…and go for the seventh next year!
Which leads me to what’s next for this Patriot’s team. Welp, seemingly a lot of roster decisions. A whole slew of free agents of varying importance. And we will cover that in due time…
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 1-0
Season (against the spread): 147-120 (55.1%…1.5% better than last year!)
Season (straight up): 171-96 (64.0%…3.4% worse than last year…yikes!)