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Rob Gronkowski grateful for contract restructure, turns focus to earning it from Patriots 08.04.15 at 5:25 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski is $4 million richer. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski is $4 million richer. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski considers his recent contract restructure to be good news. That’€™s probably because it means he’€™s $4 million richer.

With the Patriots beginning the process of paying Gronkowski his $10 million option bonus by the end of the league year, the star tight end was reportedly paid $4 million at the start of training camp. Now that the Patriots just have to pay the other $6 million by the end of the league year, there’s no reason for anyone to fret that Gronkowski might play on any other team than the one that drafted him. Not for a while, anyway.

“It’€™s a great feeling,” Gronkowski said Tuesday. “I just want to thank Mr. Kraft, Coach Belichick and the New England Patriots organization. They’€™re first-class to always deal with. It is what it is now and it’€™s time to put that behind you and just play football now.”

The Patriots snagged Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL because they were willing to overlook a back injury and the fact that the player came out of college early despite having injury concerns. Second-round picks shouldn’t be treated as lottery tickets, but it remains puzzling that no team gambled on Gronkowski before the Pats took him 10 picks into the second round.

Obviously, any risk that the Pats took has paid off immeasurably. Still just 26, Gronkowski has established himself as one of the greatest tight ends of all time (and arguably the best). He’€™s set records for not only the tight end position (with the most touchdowns in a single season for a tight end, set in 2011, among them) but receivers in general (he and Randy Moss are tied for the most touchdowns over a player’€™s first two seasons with 28). Coming off his first Super Bowl championship, Gronkowski seems both grateful and eager to continue what’€™s been a successful working relationship.

“It’€™s just an honor to be part of it,” Gronkowski said when asked about the Patriots organization. “Ever since I was drafted, it’€™s an unbelievable feeling just coming here and coming out to practice every single day and putting that jersey on.”

As Gronkowski has learned both in college and the NFL, injuries can change things pretty quickly. As such, getting the $4 million paid already means that he can focus on football rather than having to worry about what might happen if he were to get hurt.

“It’€™s always a relief,” Gronkowski said. “That being [said], I’€™ll come out here and just play football. No matter when you step on the field, you’€™re not really worried about that. When I step on the field and come out here to practice, I come out to practice with a purpose every time and that’€™s to get better. That part’€™s all going great, too, but at the same time I’€™m out here to play football.”

As for earning the money, Gronkowski said he isn’t taking training camp lightly as he prepares for his sixth NFL season.

“You’€™ve got to come out to practice and you’€™ve got to actually practice harder than the games,” he said. “You’€™ve got to push yourself to a harder limit and get yourself prepared for games. You don’€™t want to go out here and just go through the motions. You want to push yourself so when game time comes, you’€™re ready, you’€™re prepared and you’€™re ready to face the opponents.”

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Bill Belichick on red zone greatness of Rob Gronkowski: ‘Obviously, bigger is better’ at 2:30 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski speaks to reporters after practice Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/

Rob Gronkowski speaks to reporters after practice Sunday. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — Call it the super-sizing of the Patriots offense.

Bill Belichick was asked about unique ability of his receivers to get into end zone when the team is in the red area.

In the last five years, the primary target in that regard has been Rob Gronkowski. While there are a handful of great red zone producers in the game like Jimmy Graham, no one in football does it better than Rob Gronkowski.

On Tuesday, Belichick broke down the art of getting open in the red zone. Without mentioning Gronk by name initially, Belichick cited all the qualities a receiver needs to execute when the pressure is on inside the 20.

“I think the main thing in the red zone is whoever you’re throwing to, somehow that person has to create some separation with the defense, and it’s hard because there’s not very much space. The defense is taught to get on those guys quickly,” Belichick said.

“So, whether it’s quickness, size, ability to catch the ball away from your body with great hands consistently or maybe a person that excels in a particular route, and the technique of it, like a fade or slant or some type of push off contact play to create separation. It’s hard to get open down there. There’s not a lot of space and the defense drops seven again five or eight against five, which teams are doing a little bit more of that, going with three-man rush down there to get that extra guy in coverage. It’s just really tight.”

Gronkowski is 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds. There are few in the game that can compare to his size and catch radius, something Tom Brady has often cited as a reason for his dependance on No. 87.

“Any player that can separate, whether it’s size, quickness, hands, technique, makes them a good red area receiver. I don’t think it has to be a tight end or not a tight end,” Belichick added. “It can be anybody but the ability to do that is what makes them good.

“Obviously, bigger is better, particularly when a lot of throws in there in the red area are at the back end line, high up by the crossbar on the goal post. Those high throws in the back of the end zone, that just gives the quarterback a little bigger target but the guy’s got to have good hands to be able to bring the ball down and make a tough catch. Just being tall might help but without good hands, jumping skills, timing, concentration, that’s only one component of it.

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Read More: 2015 Patriots Training Camp, Bill Belichick, Gronk, New England Patriots
Report: Patriots convert Rob Gronkowski $10 million option bonus into 2 payments at 9:37 am ET
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The Patriots are taking care of their tight end.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots have converted a $10 million option bonus due after this season for Rob Gronkowski into two parts — $4 million now and $6 million later. ESPN’s Adam Schefter adds the idea behind it was to get money distributed more equally over next two years.

Gronkowski’s base salary for this season is $4,750,000, the seventh-highest in the NFL. His current contract goes through the end of the 2019 season. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport adds the team would have to pick up Gronkowski’s $6 million bonus due after this season for the deal to extend through 2019, which it’s expected will happen.

In five seasons he’s caught 308 passes for 4,379 yards and 54 touchdowns.

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Rob Gronkowski explains why he thinks Jamie Collins is ‘a freak’ 08.02.15 at 1:38 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski can appreciate a great physical specimen on the football field when he sees one.

And when the 6-foot-6, 265-pound All-Pro tight end looks across the line of scrimmage in full pads practice in camp, he most definitely sees one in linebacker Jamie Collins.

The third-year linebacker out of Southern Miss stands 6-foot-3, weighs in at 250 and is as close to a animal as the Patriots have on defense. There have even been comparisons to Lawrence Taylor in the way he can run and turn on his motor as an outside linebacker.

Gronk would be inclined to agree. And he’s happy he’s on the Patriots come game days.

“He’s a freak,” Gronk said after the team’s second straight day in full pads Sunday. “He’s fast, he’s long and he’s strong and he plays the game of football how it should be. He knows how to hit. He knows how to cover. He’s just an overall good player so it’s great going versus guys like him. That definitely makes you compete and makes you better.”

There’s another big player who’s been making a big impact this spring and summer. Only new tight end Scott Chandler has been working with Gronkowski on the same side of the ball.

“It’s great. He’s a great guy and he’s a competitor,” Gronkowski said. “He comes out here and works hard and definitely helps in individual drills and the meetings. And he’s all about football, which is awesome.”

Speaking of competition, Gronkowski was again asked about his starting quarterback and how he’s handling practice with Deflategate swirling around.

“He’s out here every single day with a competitive edge, no matter when it is,” Gronk said of Tom Brady. “Same with everyone on the team, same with myself. Just have to come out and work hard every single day.”

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Read More: 2015 Patriots Training Camp, Gronk, Jamie Collins, Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski: Building cohesiveness with any QB boils down to ‘working together’ 07.30.15 at 1:44 pm ET
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Rob Gronkowski speaks to media after Thursday's camp practice in Foxboro. (Mike Petraglia/

Rob Gronkowski speaks to media after Thursday’s camp practice in Foxboro. (Mike Petraglia/

FOXBORO — When it comes to adjusting to working with Jimmy Garoppolo as opposed to Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski said that it boils down to a simple formula.

“It’s just (about) going out there and working hard,” Gronkowski said following practice Thursday. “When we get our reps together, we have to go out there and get our chemistry down. Obviously, every quarterback throws a little different, and going out there and knowing the way he throws and knowing where the ball is going to be (is key). But it’s just about working together and getting the reps in together.”

Gronkowski, who wouldn’t comment on the possibility of whether or not Brady will open the season, was more interested in talking about his own situation. Thursday marked the first training camp of the summer for Gronkowski and the rest of the roster. This is a unique camp for the tight end, as it marks the first one since the year following his rookie season where he hasn’t had to worry about rehabbing an injury.

Instead, he’s been freed to get in as much work as possible. On Thursday, he was a frequent target of both Brady and Garoppolo, as the two quarterbacks got in plenty of reps throwing to a variety of pass catchers.

“It feels great to be back out on the field with the team — doing individual drills, team drills,” he said. “Just getting back out there together. Just going out there and working with all the tight ends.

“It felt great. It always feels great to get back out on the football field,” he added. “It’s definitely a refreshing feeling to get back out here and play some ball.”

Gronkowski is getting used to working alongside veteran free-agent pickup Scott Chandler, who arrived from Buffalo in the offseason.

“Working with Scott is great — a hard worker,” he said. “He bring a lot of attitude to the field. As a tight end group, we love to come out here and work hard.”

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Read More: Jimmy Garoppolo, Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Tom Brady
Despite Deflategate, Tom Brady tops NFLPA top 50 player sales list 07.24.15 at 7:00 am ET
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Tom Brady can still move a lot of products. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Despite Deflategate, the image of Tom Brady can still move a lot of products. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Tom Brady may be under fire for his role in Deflategate, but his image is still one of the hottest-selling commodities in the NFL.

According to the National Football League Players Association, Brady ranks No. 1 on the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales List for the most recent quarter. The list, which is based on total sale of all officially licensed NFL merchandise from March 1 through May 31, had Brady on top, leading Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Seattle signal-caller Russell Wilson, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Denver’s Peyton Manning, all of whom round out the Top 5.

The list is based on overall sales of all licensed products from online and traditional retail outlets as reported by more than 80 NFLPA licensees such as Nike, VF Imagewear, Fanatics, Outerstuff, Fathead, McFarlane Toys, Oyo Sports, Bleacher Creatures, FBF Originals, Forever Collectibles, FanPrint and Photo File.

Licensed product categories include men’s, women’s and youth game jerseys and t-shirts, player murals, figurines, matted and framed photos, bobbleheads, drinkware, socks, jewelry, electronic device accessories, among others. According to the report, Brady outsold all players in Oyo Sports mini-figures, Forever Collectibles bobbleheads (followed by teammate Rob Gronkowski), Fatheads and Lids custom player headwear.

Gronkowski (No. 14) and Julian Edelman (No. 35) were the only other Patriots to appear in the Top 50.

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Recapping the non-Deflategate events of Patriots offseason 07.22.15 at 9:17 am ET
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Darrelle Revis left the Patriots for the Jets. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis left the Patriots for the Jets. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The offseason is rarely quiet for Super Bowl champions. Such would have been the case for the Patriots regardless of Deflategate, but the circus that’€™s accompanied the NFL’€™s handling has overshadowed what would have been an eventful offseason anyway.

Here’€™s a timeline of every major (non-Deflategate) event regarding the Patriots this offseason:

Feb 2: Rob Gronkowski begins another summer of Gronk with Jimmy Kimmel appearance

The veteran tight end has made the rounds this offseason, also appearing on Kelly & Michael and Celebrity Family Feud.

March 5: Vince Wilfork announces he won’€™t return

The 2004 first-round pick announced in a tweet that the team had declined his option, making him a free agent the next week. He ended up taking a two-year deal with the Texans on Marc 16.

March 9: Re-signed Devin McCourty

The 2010 first-round pick got a five-year, $47.5 million contract.

March 10: Lost Darrelle Revis, declined option on Brandon Browner

The Pats let Revis get to free agency by declining his $20 million option for next season. That led to the former Jet returning to his first employer on a five-year, $70 million deal with $39 million guaranteed.

Without Revis, the Pats opted to move away from playing press coverage, so they declined Browner’€™s option and let him sign with the Saints.

March 11: Released Kyle Arrington, signed Brandon Gibson

Arrington was a solid slot corner for the Pats over the years, but the 29-year-old struggled in the Super Bowl before being replaced by Malcolm Butler. He signed on with the Ravens.

Gibson joins Danny Amendola as former Rams receivers who eventually followed Josh McDaniels to New England. The Pats also signed fellow receiver Kevin Dorsey that day, but released him in May.

March 12: Signed (and later released) Chimdi Chekwa

Not the only free agent signing who didn’€™t make it through the offseason. Among others, former Redskins tight end Fred Davis experienced a similar fate.

March 16: Signed Scott Chandler

The former Bill figures to give the Patriots the best 1-2 punch they’€™ve had at tight end since Aaron Hernandez was released.

March 18: Signed Brandon Spikes for a very short time

Spikes’€™ Patriots reunion lasted less than a month before a motor vehicle incident involving Spikes’€™ car resulted in the Pats to cut bait. He was eventually charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury crash, operating a motor vehicle negligently to endanger, speeding and failure to stay within marked lanes.

March 18: Signed Bradley Fletcher

The former Eagle figures to compete for a starting job on a New England team that’€™s thin and young at cornerback.  Read the rest of this entry »

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