ORLANDO – An early evening conversation with Bill Belichick brings us no closer to knowing the plans of tight end Rob Gronkowski.

The Patriots head coach met with a small gathering of New England media here at the Ritz-Carlton. Standing under an ornate overhang near a towering fountain, a relaxed Belichick went briefly through some offseason checkpoints.

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Asked if he had gotten any indication from Gronkowski on whether he’d be back for 2018, Belichick answered, “I’m not going to speak for anybody else. Conversations I’ve had with the players –  and I’ve had a lot of them – I’m gonna keep those private between myself and the player. I’ll respect that coach-to-player conversation. I don’t want to speak for anybody else.”

I followed by asking whether the team needed to make any contingent plans in case they were caught short at tight end.

Belichick wasn’t having it. “Trying to get the slider coming in over the outside corner? Yeah. I think I just covered that.”

Gronk said immediately after the Super Bowl he was going to ponder his future. Health concerns were the initial issue cited. Since then, I’ve reported on Gronk’s disillusionment during last training camp and his irritation with the way he felt he was treated and singled out in some instances. Gronkowski also has two years left on a contract that – while lucrative when it was signed – is now horrifically outdated.


Gronk’s been keeping busy so far this offseason with enigmatic tweets and public displays of weekend foolishness.