Patriots

Rob Gronkowski clarifies report of him studying Bucs playbook while with Patriots

Rob Gronkowski clarifies report of him studying Bucs playbook while with Patriots

UPDATE: Rob Gronkowski posted a tweet Wednesday night clarifying that he was kidding around during the broadcast and he hasn't checked out the Bucs playbook yet.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been the talk of the NFL offseason after acquiring ex-New England Patriots stars Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

Some of that talk has been off-field related. For example, Brady was accused of breaking league rules by visiting offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL recently announced new guidelines prohibiting players from meeting face-to-face with coaches before their offseason program begins.

Nevertheless, Brady won't be disciplined by the league for that. But now, his longtime tight end Gronkowski finds himself in a similar situation.

During Saturday's Bud Light Seltzer “Drafterparty" (57-minute mark), Gronk got caught up in a conversation about No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow studying the Cincinnati Bengals playbook weeks before the draft, and he claimed he was studying the Bucs playbook while still under contract with the Patriots.

“I was in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers playbook four weeks ago, and I wasn’t even on the team," Gronkowski said, per ProFootballTalk.

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That begs the obvious question: Could Tampa Bay be charged with tampering? That depends on how Gronkowski received the Bucs playbook.

If the Bucs directly communicated with Gronk and gave him the playbook while he was still under contract with New England, that's the very definition of tampering. It's unclear whether the Patriots authorized communications between Gronkowski and the Bucs before the April 22 trade.

Regardless, it definitely was a mistake for Gronk to blurt that out in the middle of a live broadcast if it puts his new team at risk of being disciplined. We'll have to wait and see what -- if anything -- comes out of it.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Patriots Opposing Views - Perspectives from around the NFL

Patriots Talk Podcast: Patriots Opposing Views - Perspectives from around the NFL

Over the last few weeks, NBC Sports Boston's Patriots insiders Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry have chatted with NFL writers from around the country to get their perspective on the Pats as well as the teams they cover.

To catch up on the Patriots Opposing Views series, look no further than the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.

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1:15 – Mary Kay Cabot joins Tom to discuss the Cleveland Browns. Topics include: how close the team was to hiring Josh McDaniels and if the Odell Beckham Jr.-to-New England rumors are dead.

11:08 – Ed Bouchette joins Tom to discuss the Pittsburgh Steelers. Topics include: the excitement level in Pittsburgh now that Tom Brady has left New England and whether Ben Roethlisberger can return to an elite level.

22:46 – Joe Rexrode joins Phil to discuss the Tennessee Titans. Topics include: the reasons for Mike Vrabel’s coaching success and if the team was right to choose Ryan Tannehill over Tom Brady this offseason.

30:11 – John McClain joins Tom to discuss the Houston Texans. Topics include: what John thinks of Jarrett Stidham after watching him at Baylor and why Bill O’Brien traded DeAndre Hopkins.

39:32 – Justin Rogers joins Phil to discuss the Detroit Lions. Topics include: if Matt Patricia is on the ‘hot seat’ as head coach and the odds Matthew Stafford ends his career outside of Detroit.

You can check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Next Pats Podcast: How Dalton Keene can transform Patriots offense

Next Pats Podcast: How Dalton Keene can transform Patriots offense

In the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots addressed their need at the tight end position by selecting Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene with back-to-back picks.

Keene, a Virginia Tech product, is a particularly intriguing rookie due to his versatility. Anyone who knows Bill Belichick knows that the Patriots head coach loves a player who can act a swiss army knife and can be effective no matter where you put them on the field, and Keene was exactly that during his college years.

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Brad Cornelsen, Keene's offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, believes Belichick and the Patriots will be pleased with everything the young tight end brings to the table as a player. On the latest Next Pats Podcast with Phil Perry, Cornelson explained how Keene excelled at multiple roles on offense and can translate that experience to the NFL.

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In high school he was a quarterback, I mean he did a little bit of everything so we knew there was some versatility when he came. But I think his natural spot when he showed up was kind of that hybrid guy for us between tight end and kind of back. And so, playing him in the backfield quite a bit in the run game, blocking, kicking out edges, getting on the perimeter, those were the ways we kind of used him initially. Certainly the prototypical guy that you can split out that can line up at slot ... great hands, great concentration, doesn't hardly drop anything ...

The swiss army knife. He can do it all and has done it all for us. It didn't surprise me when I saw the team that drafted him, just the reputation that the Patriots have for really placing such a huge value on tough, smart football players.

Obviously, Keene's primary responsibility to begin his NFL career will be to develop as a tight end. But Perry brings up the interesting scenario of Keene teaming up with Danny Vitale at the fullback position.

I look at the San Francisco 49ers and their usage of [Kyle] Juszczyk, an athletic fullback, and then I look at the two athletic the Patriots have at fullback themselves now in Vitale and Keene, and I wonder if we won't see something similar in New England in 2020. I would say of Vitale and Keene, both very different types of players from James Develin. James Develin was a sledgehammer ... I wouldn't look at Vitale or Keene as someone who's necessarily going to come right away and fill that same type of role ...  I think that these two guys that they have now, they're both a little bit lighter ... I would say both are more explosive athletes and both are probably more dynamic in terms of what they can provide a passing game as receivers themselves.

Also discussed on the latest episode of the Next Pats Podcast are how Keene got the nickname "Rambo," how having an athletic fullback could help quarterback Jarrett Stidham, and much more.

Check out more of the Next Pats Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below: