Patriots

Rob Gronkowski's agent won't rule out a potential return sometime in 2019

Rob Gronkowski's agent won't rule out a potential return sometime in 2019

UPDATE: Rosenhaus doubled-down on his statements in an appearance on ESPN's Get Up. Per Mike Reiss, Rosenhaus said that he "wouldn't be shocked if [Gronk] came back to play a few games." Here's the full statement Rosenhaus made about Gronk's return.

--End of Update--  

The New England Patriots suffered a blow to their offense on Sunday afternoon when star tight end Rob Gronkowski elected to retire. Gronk, 29, was one of the best tight ends in NFL history and one of Tom Brady's top weapons for the past decade.

While the Patriots' offense may be in a tough position without Gronk, there is a silver lining. There is a small possibility that he could return to the team.

In an interview with ProFootballTalk's Peter King, Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, wouldn't rule out a return at some point in 2019. Still, per King, "There's nothing to indicate a return to football now," which makes sense given that Gronkowski just announced his retirement.

It could make sense for Gronkowski to return later in the season or perhaps just for a postseason run with the Patriots. After all, he has been highly productive in the playoffs, logging 81 catches for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns in 14 postseason contests. And returning later in the season would keep him from taking as many hits and guarantee he would be healthy late in the year.

But without assurance from Gronkowski that he will return, the Patriots won't be able to rely on that possibility.

The Patriots are thin at tight end in the wake of Gronkowski's retirement, so expect them to address the position soon. They recently made an aggressive run at Jared Cook in free agency and have expressed interest in several of the top tight ends in the 2019 NFL Draft.

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Could Patrick Mahomes' injury derail Chiefs-Patriots collision course?

Could Patrick Mahomes' injury derail Chiefs-Patriots collision course?

Even after the Kansas City Chiefs lost two straight, it felt like destiny.

Motivated by last season's home loss to New England in the AFC Championship Game, Patrick Mahomes would lead his team back to the same spot for a Patriots grudge match with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

Then Mahomes attempted a quarterback sneak against the Denver Broncos on Thursday night and dislocated his right knee.

Mahomes has an MRI scheduled for Friday, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday night that Mahomes is expected to miss three weeks in the "best case."

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported a similar timetable Friday morning, noting there's "real optimism" in Kansas City that Mahomes won't miss significant time.

That's a silver lining for the Chiefs, who improved to 5-2 on Thursday night and still own the AFC's second-best record behind the 6-0 Patriots.

But Mahomes' injury couldn't have come at a worse time.

Kansas City's next two games are against the 5-1 Green Bay Packers on "Sunday Night Football" and the 4-2 Minnesota Vikings. A Week 10 road matchup with the Tennessee Titans should be winnable, but following that are a road game against the AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers and a home date with the 3-2 Oakland Raiders, who have a real chance to overtake the Chiefs for the division lead in that span.

That all leads to Kansas City's Week 14 showdown in New England.

Based on early reports, it seems feasible Mahomes could play in that matchup. But unless backup QB Matt Moore and the inconsistent Chiefs defense step up over the next several weeks, the Patriots could welcome a team fighting for a Wild Card berth rather than battling New England for the AFC's top seed.

If Mahomes returns in three weeks and the Chiefs win at least one of their games without him, a deep playoff run and rematch with the Patriots is still possible. But it's far from the inevitability it was earlier this month.

UPDATE (1 p.m. ET): It sounds like the Chiefs avoided the worst with Mahomes' injury, although he'll still miss some time, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

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Devin McCourty explains key to Patriots' hot start on the road in 2019

Devin McCourty explains key to Patriots' hot start on the road in 2019

The New England Patriots struggled mightily on the road in 2018, posting a 3-5 record away from Gillette Stadium en route to their first season in which they didn't win 12 or more games since 2009.

The Patriots' road issues ultimately didn't cost them in the playoffs -- they beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium -- but it did make the road to Super Bowl LIII more difficult.

The defending Super Bowl champs have played much better on the road in 2019. They are 3-0 entering Monday night's Week 7 matchup versus the rival New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.

What's led to the Patriots' improved performance away from home this season?

"I think coming out and playing well early, trying to get off to a good start and continuing to do that," Patriots safety Devin McCourty told reporters Thursday. "Playing for four quarters is something we’ve been talking about since training camp when we went on the road against Detroit and Tennessee of starting our mentality early of playing well on the road because we saw how much that hurt us last year of just not doing it.

"But, I think in this league, it’s not about being 3-0. It’s about how do you get to 4-0? How do you do it the next week? How do you prepare and play well again on the road? Just because you’ve done it doesn’t matter. Last year, we sucked on the road. We had to go to an AFC Championship game on the road. All that mattered was how we played in that one game. So, I think that’s the mentality we have to keep throughout the season."

The Patriots' road opponents through six games have mostly been pretty weak. Aside from a tough game in Buffalo against the Bills, the Patriots have played two easy matchups against the winless Miami Dolphins and the 1-5 Washington Redskins.

New England's schedule will get tougher, including difficult road matchups versus the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles, but the early success away from Gillette Stadium is an encouraging development for the Patriots as they continue toward locking up the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

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