Curran: So what's the endgame in the Foxboro Cold War?

Curran: So what's the endgame in the Foxboro Cold War?

With Tom Brady in Qatar having his family’s April vacation chronicled by Tom vs. Time producer Gotham Chopra, you know we’re going to get a much more intimate and revealing look at what his April mindset really is. 

With Rob Gronkowski in Texas acting as a human water ski you know we’re going to get . . . more enigmatic and entertaining social media posts. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the Patriots are beginning preparations for 2018 still without knowing whether both or either will be back this season. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentioned on Wednesday what we’ve noted often this offseason: We all expect Brady to play, but he hasn’t since the offseason began, really committed. 

His last on-the-record comment uttered during the season that he’d be back has been followed by ambiguous statements since about fun, appreciation and a nagging question of “why” he does all this

And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that this is an attempt -- one week before the draft -- to smoke Brady out. It’s one thing for us to report locally that it’s been impossible to “ferret out an answer that Tom Brady is going to play in 2018” as we did last week on Quick Slants The Podcast:

It’s another thing entirely for Schefter -- owner of the biggest bugle in the business  -- to wafflingly report that Brady hasn’t committed to playing. That’s going to cause pearl-clutching from Anaheim to Augusta, Maine. It ratchets up the heat a bit on Brady. OTAs started this week and the team has no indication? The draft is in a week and they don’t know? They traded Jimmy Garoppolo and there’s no hard answer? For one of the NFL’s most committed players, ambivalence does nothing for him in the court of public opinion (fleeting as that jury is). Worse, it doesn’t help his off-field brand with TB12 Sports Therapy. It’s also bad for the franchise to not know whether its figurehead is returning. Observe that when Schefter’s source catalogs the reasons Brady might be wavering, there’s no mention of a Brady-Bill Belichick rift and the very real power struggle that’s ongoing. 

As this continues to play out, we continue to not only wonder what the endgame is but why? And who’s winning or deserves “blame?”

Our podcast this week went deep on a number of items with Jerod Mayo and the ongoing Foxboro Cold War:

Two main items of note:

-- First, if Danny Amendola feels somewhat betrayed by the still-unexplained benching of Malcolm Butler, what of Brady? And the rest of the team that is now returning?

“There are only two people that know what happened: Bill and Malcolm,” said Mayo. “I’ve had conversations with multiple guys on the team and no one knows."

Is this the biggest hurdle Belichick’s faced?

“I think so. Being able to rally the troops around this one common goal of getting to the Super Bowl while (players are thinking), ‘If we get there, how do we know you’re not going to pull this again?' that’s always going to be back of the players' minds as well. For the most part, players don’t play for the coaches. You play for the guy -- corny as it sounds -- you play for the guys next to you. And those guys will find a common ground to rally around. This can be terrible for the franchise for the foreseeable future, or they can just plow through it.”  

-- Meanwhile, here’s Mayo on the importance of OTAs to the team. 

“I remember when Bill, every offseason, the first thing he would say to the team was, ‘Hey guys, we’re not doing this, ‘I’m here this week, I’m gone next week . . . ’ Either you’re here or you’re not here. we’re not doing the back and forth.’

"So someone’s gotta bend here. Either Bill has to bend and say, ‘Guys, come on back home, you can come in.’ Or he can all of a sudden, iron fist drops and a nuclear bomb goes off. Either you’re in or you’re out. Timing doesn’t matter as far (what the team is doing). If Tom and Gronk aren’t here next week, they’re done for the whole offseason. Or, Bill has changed his ways a little bit. There’s been a little compromise."



Patriots Sign Linebacker Ramon Humber To 53-Man Roster

Patriots Sign Linebacker Ramon Humber To 53-Man Roster

The New England Patriots bolstered their linebacker depth Wednesday with the signing of 10-year veteran Ramon Humber to the 53-man roster.

The details of Humber's contract were not released by the team. 

This isn't Humber's first stint with the Patriots. New England signed him in March of 2016, but he was released in August of that year before playing a regular-season game for the Pats. 

The 31-year-old veteran was cut by the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. He tallied nine tackles in nine games with the Bills this season. Humber has posted 234 tackles, 4.5 sacks and five passes defensed over 130 career NFL games. Humber has plenty of experience on special teams, so he could find a role in that phase for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Humber wore No. 50 at Patriots practice Wednesday.

The Patriots are on a bye in Week 11 and resume their regular-season schedule in Week 12 at the New York Jets. 

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Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski in danger of missing several contract incentives

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski in danger of missing several contract incentives

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are team players, and their goal (as always) is to win the Super Bowl. But they also have serious personal motivation to perform well down the stretch.

The New England Patriots quarterback and tight end, like many of their teammates, are on incentive-laden contracts, meaning they get bonuses if they hit various statistical benchmarks in a season.

With just seven games remaining in the regular season, however, both Brady and Gronkowski are on pace to fall short on several of those benchmarks. How far short, you ask?

As the Patriots enter their bye week, let's break down the reported incentives in both players' contracts, and where they stand after Week 10:

Tom Brady

Incentive: Top five in the NFL in passer rating ($1 million)

Current Pace: 94.7 passer rating -- 16th

Incentive: Top five in the NFL in completion percentage ($1 million)

Current Pace: 65.2 percent -- 18th

Incentive: Top five in the NFL in yards per attempt ($1 million)

Current Pace: 7.41 Y/A -- 17th

Incentive: Top five in the NFL in touchdown passes ($1 million)

Current Pace: 17 TDs -- T-11th

Incentive: Top five in the NFL in passing yards ($1 million)

Current Pace: 2,748 yards -- 5th

As it stands now, Brady is barely on pace to unlock just one of his four incentives and likely will leave $4 million in incentives on the table. His tight end isn't faring much better.

Rob Gronkowski

Incentive: 70 or more catches ($1.1 million)

Current Pace: 29 catches

Incentive: 80 percent or more of total offensive snaps ($1.1 million)

Current Pace: 64.3 percent of snaps

Incentive: Nine or more touchdown catches ($1.1 million)

Current Pace: One touchdown catch

Incentive: 1,085 or more receiving yards ($1.1 million)

Current Pace: 448 receiving yards

Gronkowski's contract stipulates he can earn a maximum of $3.3 million, but after missing three of the Patriots' last four games with back and ankle ailments, it'd be a surprise if he sees any of that money.

Both Brady and Gronkowski have been the subjects of retirement rumors, so if they don't meet these benchmarks by Week 17, it will be interesting to see whether they attempt to renegotiate their contracts or seriously ponder stepping away from the game.

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