Patriots

Rob Gronkowski never considered holding out for a new contract

Rob Gronkowski never considered holding out for a new contract

 

FOXBORO -- It's the Summer of the Holdout in the NFL. Aaron Donald seems prepared to carry his into the season. Khalil Mack may wait for Donald's to end before he shows up to work. Earl Thomas hasn't reported to camp. Ditto for Le'Veon Bell. Julio Jones threatened to hold out until his deal was adjusted.

Rob Gronkowski is certainly that caliber of player. And he'd certainly like to see his deal receive an adjustment of its own. But he's not planning on withholding services.

Not even close, he told reporters following Day 1 of Patriots training camp.

"No, it hasn't even came close to considering that," Gronkowski said. "Not even one bit. What I can do, though, is keep preparing, keep showing up every day, keep doing what I've got to do to get better."

Gronkowski avoided all voluntary workouts in the spring and during minicamp spoke openly about his desire to have a new contract.

"Trying to [re-do the contract]," he said. Before the season? "Who wouldn't?"

We know the situation by now. Gronkowski is set to make about $9 million in 2018. That's a tick below what he earned on his incentive-laden re-done contract for 2017, when he pulled in $10.75 million for being named a First-Team All-Pro. It's also less than what the highest-paid tight end in the league (Green Bay's Jimmy Graham) will make on a per-year basis. 

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The Patriots wouldn't have to go very far to make Gronkowski -- typically the consensus top tight end in football when healthy -- the highest-paid player in the league at his position. But is that far enough for him? Gronkowski is a prisoner of his position, one of the lowest-paid in football based on franchise-tag numbers, and where the receiver market has gone has made Gronkowski's contract (drawn up in 2012) look like one of the best bargains in the NFL. 

Sammy Watkins is making $16 million a year. Brandin Cooks is getting $16.2 million. Jarvis Landry is getting $15.1 million, and Allen Robinson is pulling down $14 million per year. There isn't a football-following soul who would agree that any of those players bring more value to the field than Gronkowski. 

When healthy. And that may be part of the issue in getting a deal done for Gronkowski. There is no argument that he has been injury prone. He's entering his ninth training camp. He's no longer the young, fun-loving goof who catches everything. Now he's just a fun-loving goof who catches everything. 

For the Patriots, there could be a bit of a hangup in rewarding a player who hasn't been all-in on the program of late. We know his workout regimen has veered, which he argues has been to his benefit. But skipping voluntary workouts, holding strange press conferences in moto-cross garb and flaunting the fact that he would be skipping voluntary workouts . . . not exactly exemplary behavior for a Belichick-coached team. 

In a building where culture matters, and where players who adhere to and positively influence that culture are often rewarded, flinging a large sack of cash Gronkowski's way might be difficult. 

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It is noteworthy then that Gronkowski seems to be walking back his #bandsamakeherdance act. 

After an offseason where tension among key Patriots figures dominated headlines, he spoke of unity. 

"Everyone's together as a team," he said. "Everyone's together as a unit."

And when his contract came up, he struck a much different cord than the one he did in the spring. 

"I'm just focused on getting better and it's just internal – internally with stuff like that," he said. 

He added that he felt the deal would take care of itself as long as he took care of his health and his play on the field. 

"Yeah, exactly. I mean, there's one thing I can do," he said. "There's one thing I can worry about and there's one thing that I can control and that's myself, that's my play, that's me going out there doing what I've got to do to help the team."

On Day 1 of camp, he did that. He caught three consecutive passes early in an 11-on-11 red-zone period and looked uncoverable. 

But most importantly to the Patriots, he showed up. Which not every NFL star hoping for a new deal can say at this point in the summer. 

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Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam newton

Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam newton

Chris Hogan wasn't with the Patriots for long, but in three seasons with the franchise, he experienced about as much as you possibly could for that short a time frame. He played in three consecutive Super Bowls and won two while catching passes from the legendary Tom Brady. 

Hogan signed a one-year deal with the Panthers this offseason after he said the Patriots moved on from him, though there are no hard feelings. Now he's working with the talented but inconsistent Cam Newton in Carolina, and has already noticed a key similarity between his new quarterback and Brady, as he told ESPN's David Newton

That competitive nature, it’s there. When it comes time to strap on the pads and play football, their focus is on one goal and that’s winning football games.

Cam wants to win. You can tell that right away from talking to him and being around him.

Newton won the MVP in 2016 and led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, but lost to Von Miller and that brutal Broncos defense that featured Malik Jackson, Chris Harris Jr. and DeMarcus Ware just to name a few key contributors.

You have to wonder what would have happened if the Patriots hadn't lost to Denver in that year's AFC Championship game. Super Bowl 50 is the only Super Bowl the Patriots haven't participated in over the last five years. 

Hogan had enough time with Brady to notice what made him great, so if he sees that same competitive fire in Newton, then that has to be a good sign for Panthers fans. We already know Newton has the ability to turn a conference on its head, so there's a possibility we see him and Brady square off in February this coming season You never know. 

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WATCH: NFL Films special on Julian Edelman and his dad will make your Fathers Day

WATCH: NFL Films special on Julian Edelman and his dad will make your Fathers Day

It's Fathers Day, and for most of us who love sports, we've mostly developed that interest through our dad's, and Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is no different. 

NFL Films posted a great special on Edelman and his dad Frank and the journey they each went on for the former Kent State quarterback to become the second leading receiver in NFL Playoff history and a three-time Super Bowl champion. 

"I discovered football through my father," Julian said. "My brother played, he was seven years older than me, and my father was coaching him, so I was the kid in diapers running around the practice field and I’ve had a love for it ever since."

The video shows some of Edelman's highlights as a youth football star, donning No. 21 because he thought he was Deion Sanders. However, his opportunities were limited throughout his amateur career due to his size. 

"The thing about Jules is he was really little," Frank said. "He used to come in my room crying in the middle of the night saying, ‘Daddy when am I gonna grow, when am I gonna grow.’ And I said son, don’t worry. 

"He’s fearless, and always had a chip on his shoulder."

As a three-year starting quarterback at Kent State, Edelman threw for 4,997 yards, 30 touchdowns and 31 interceptions to go along with 2,483 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. The only interest he drew as a quarterback was in the Canadien Football League, while the Patriots drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft to be a receiver. 

"I said, ‘Jules you just got picked up by British Columbia,’ and he goes, ‘I ain’t going I’m gonna be a receiver in the NFL," Frank said. 

Edelman only caught one pass for 11 yards in college, so he and his dad worked seven days a week for Edelman to get up to speed on being a successful receiver. His dad's coaching style was similar enough to Edelman's new coach that he called his dad, "Baby Belichick."

From catching punts with one eye covered and a hand behind his back to using running routes on tennis courts, Edelman's methods seemed to work for him. 

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