Patriots

How much help he'll get will factor in Rob Gronkowski's decision to return to the Patriots in 2019

rob_gronkowski1.jpg
File photo

How much help he'll get will factor in Rob Gronkowski's decision to return to the Patriots in 2019

Rob Gronkowski is still pondering whether or not he’ll be back for 2019. One of the biggest determining factors: Is anybody going to share the tight-end load with him?

The Patriots officially cut Dwayne Allen Monday, which means the only tight ends on the roster are Gronk and Jacob Hollister. That will change in the course of the offseason, but will it change enough to convince Gronk that he’s not going to be ridden into the ground in 2019?

This past year, Gronk played 838 regular-season snaps and another 246 in the postseason, including 97 against the Chiefs. That's 1,084 all told. In 2017, he played 1,079 between the regular season and playoffs.

Every NFL player takes a beating on game days but Gronk’s thrashing is unique in that his job requires him to block like a tackle, run routes like a wideout and take body shots unlike anybody else.

And with the lack of tight-end depth in New England -- Allen and Jacob Hollister were the only other tight ends who saw the field for the Patriots this season -- the pressure was on Gronk every week to get up and do it again.

MORE PATRIOTS

The cycle of punishment wore on him, and he acknowledged that at the Super Bowl.

"The season's a grind,” he said in Atlanta. “It's up and down . . . You can take some serious hits . . . Try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It's tough, it's difficult. To take hits to the thigh, take hits to your head. Abusing your body isn't what your brain wants. When your body is abused, it can bring down your mood. You've got to be able to deal with that, too, throughout the season. You gotta be able to deal with that in the games.

“I just took 50 collisions, and then like the next day everyone wants you to be up," he continued. "They want practice full speed, next week they want the game to be full speed, but they don't understand sometimes what players are going through with their bodies, with their minds.”

It would be one thing if Gronk was ecstatic with his contract situation and taking the beating. He’s not. And hasn’t been. Last season, his base was $8 million and he didn’t hit any of the incentives the team dangled in front of him. This year, the base is $9 million.

Gronk remains at the top of the tight-end food chain when it comes to salary. But it’s an ongoing agitation for him that his impact, workload and the physical punishment he takes far exceeds that of many of the game’s more highly-paid wide receivers. Nineteen wide receivers will have a base salary in 2019 higher than Gronk’s $9 million.

MORE CURRAN

The Patriots would love to know sooner rather than later whether Gronk is coming back.

But his decision is going to be, in part, contingent on the workload they expect him to shoulder for his $9 million. Until he knows what the team’s going to do in free agency and/or the draft, he may not be in a hurry to make a call. 

Which, of course, has the potential to gum up the team’s free agency plans since Gronk takes up a decent chunk of cap space.

It’s not a crisis. And it’s not something the team hasn’t dealt with before. But it needs resolution and that’s going to be hard to find.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Marquis Flowers, Sterling Moore, Sealver Siliga among ex-Patriots taken in XFL draft

Marquis Flowers, Sterling Moore, Sealver Siliga among ex-Patriots taken in XFL draft

Former Patriots linebacker Marquis Flowers, ex-Pats Sterling Moore, a cornerback, and Sealver Siliga, a defensive tackle, were among the players with New England ties selected in the XFL draft.

The spring football league that played one season in 2001 is being rebooted and will begin play in February with eight teams. Its two-day draft concluded Wednesday.

Players were picked in five phases of the draft in the following order: skill position, offensive line, defensive front seven and defensive backs. An open portion concluded the draft.

Flowers, 27, who played for the Patriots in 2017, was selected with the Dallas Renegades' second pick of the open portion.

Siliga, 29, a Patriot from 2012-15, also went to Dallas with their second pick of the front seven phase.

Moore, 29, known for stripping the ball from Baltimore Ravens receiver Lee Evans in the end zone and denying what would've been a winning touchdown catch in the Pats' 2011 AFC Championship Game victory, was picked by the Seattle Dragons in the defensive back phase.

Other notable ex-Patriots, defensive end Kony Ealy, acquired in a trade by New England in 2017 but cut that summer in training camp, was the first pick of the Houston Roughnecks in the open phase. Running back Ralph Webb, an undrafted free agent who had a strong preseason opener in 2018 before being cut, was the first pick of the Tampa Bay Vipers in the open phase and linebacker Scooby Wright, who played for the Patriots this past preseason and was cut from their practice squad Oct. 1, was chosen by the DC Defenders in the front-seven phase. 

Former Boston College running back Andre Williams was selected by Houston in the skill position phase.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Ex-Patriot Trent Brown denies domestic violence allegations in statement

Ex-Patriot Trent Brown denies domestic violence allegations in statement

Former Patriot and current Raiders offensive lineman Trent Brown was sued by his ex-girlfriend for domestic violence, and he responded to the allegations with a statement via Twitter on Wednesday.

“I am aware that my ex-girlfriend has filed a civil suit against me,” Brown tweeted. “I deny the claims. They are false. I believe in the court system where I will clear my name. I will not be making any further comment at this time.”

The disturbing acts Brown is being accused of allegedly took place over the spring and summer of this year. After helping the Patriots to their sixth Super Bowl title, the 26-year-old signed a four-year, $66 million deal with the Raiders in March.

The NFL is expected to investigate the civil allegations just as it investigated Antonio Brown's, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.