Rob Gronkowski's a Buc because Bill Belichick kept it about business

Rob Gronkowski's a Buc because Bill Belichick kept it about business

Give Bill Belichick credit. He says it’s all about business and doing what’s best for the football team? Nothing personal?

He just showed it by agreeing to deal prodigal tight end Rob Gronkowski to the Buccaneers. 

Belichick could have been petty as a motherscratcher if he so chose.

“Tender Tom didn’t feel appreciated? Boo hoo. Gwonky Gwonk not getting a chance to have fun? Poor thing. Now I’m supposed to let them have a reunion in the American Tropics where they can do their rubber band workouts, play on a Slip ‘n Slide and complain about the mean little Croatian man? Are you out of your motherflippin’ mind?”

Nope. Belichick was as good as his word in this instance. 

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The Patriots are getting something in exchange for an item they weren’t using — that they COULDN’T use — which is better than stubbornly squatting on it, isn’t it? I mean, that’s just smart business right?

Besides, how much damage can a 43-year-old quarterback and a broken-down tight end who was away from the game for a year do anyway? Especially with both of them all hepped up on nothing but Chia Seeds. 

Was a fourth-round pick enough? That’s the inevitable question.

And I get it. Why not hold out for O.J. Howard? Unless you think O.J. Howard is trash and you don’t want the final two years of his contract. 

Or you think that whole decade where your offense relied on the tight end position won’t work anymore. Then why would you want O.J. Howard? Or Gronk, for that matter. Maybe that explains in part why the Patriots were ready to trade Gronk to the Lions before the 2019 season. He’d outlived his usefulness to them? I would disagree, but they continue to do zero at the position, so … 

But the biggest takeaway I have from this is that Belichick — by all appearances — moved quickly on this. I mean, if he held it up and refused to make a deal, the national blowback about him being a meanie would have been significant. That wouldn’t have bothered him. But ceaseless conversation about Gronk, Brady, the Bucs, etc. would have so he just lanced the boil. 

Now, what’s this mean for the Bucs? Very, very, very good things. They have two of the best receivers in the NFL and have added a player who began 2018 as a beast, got hurt, healed and finished 2018 as a beast with a Super Bowl ring. 

Now he’s 30 and coming off a year in which his body had a chance to heal. I don’t know if he’ll be better than Kelce, Kittle and Ertz. I do know the combo of him with Brady is still going to be equal to the other three. 

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Plus, the rest of the Tampa Bay offense just got that much tougher to deal with. The hardest thing about Brady’s transition to Tampa was going to be familiarity with the receivers. 

I still remember Brady talking about his on-field relationship with Gronk and saying that he could tell what Gronk was going to do when he was running at full speed away from him based on subtle things like the length of his stride or the dip of his shoulders. Brady could read Gronk’s mind based on how he moved. You know how long it takes to get to that point? Of course you do. You like sports. It takes a few minutes. 

Now Brady has that with him in Tampa. And that’s a problem for the NFC. But it’s a problem that wouldn’t have come to pass unless Bill Belichick refused to make it personal. 

He kept it consistent. He kept it about business. 

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Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

The New England Patriots added even more depth to an elite group of cornerbacks Sunday by acquiring Michael Jackson in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, who's listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. The Detroit Lions signed him off the Cowboys practice squad last season and he played in one game for the NFC North team.

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Here's an updated look at the Patriots' cornerback depth chart with Jackson in the fold:

--Stephon Gilmore
--Jason McCourty
--J.C. Jackson
--Jonathan Jones
--Joejuan Williams
--Michael Jackson
--Myles Bryant
--D’Angelo Ross

It should be noted that Justin Bethel is listed at cornerback, but most of his snaps come on special teams. 

A strong case could be made that cornerback is the deepest position on the Patriots roster. The group is led by Stephon Gilmore, who became the first Patriot ever to win the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and has earned first team All-Pro selections in back-to-back seasons. 

He's not the only talented cornerback in the Patriots secondary, though. 

J.C. Jackson excelled in coverage last season, too, especially on passes beyond 20 yards. In fact, Jackson had the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted of all cornerbacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

One of the most intriguing players in the Patriots secondary is second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams. He was a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019 but saw limited playing time as a rookie.

The depth of the Patriots defense has been hit hard in recent months due to free agent departures and veterans opting out of the 2020 season amid concerns over COVID-19. One position that has remained largely intact is cornerback, and barring any significant injuries, it could be the team's most productive position this coming season.

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.

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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami. He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel, and Myles Bryant.