By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
This may or may not be news, depending on your patience for Patriots offseason drama. But the facts are that both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski missed the start of Patriots' voluntary offseason workouts, and the latest reports are that neither one of them plan on attending many of those - if any at all.
But despite the questions swirling around the future of the Patriots' two most important players, a "source with knowledge of the situation" told Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio that the team expects both to "suit up and play" in the 2018 season.
This report is far more notable for Gronkowski than it is for Brady. The quarterback apparently hasn't formally committed to playing in 2018, for any number of reasons, but pretty much no one is taking that threat seriously at this point. The Pats may not be taking it seriously, either.
Gronkowski, on the other hand, reportedly wants a new contract. And based on his comments at a press conference for a Monster Energy motocross event on Saturday, he's prepared to sit out all of the Patriots' offseason activities until he gets it.
It's far from guaranteed that Gronk will be paid at all in New England. In fact, it could be a way for him to end up shooting his way out of town. Bill Belichick has previously traded away players who had drawn battle lines over their contracts in the past, most notably with camp holdout Deion Branch in 2006.
Then again, Belichick has also paid players fair-market deals when he's viewed them as valuable enough to keep around long-term - even after holding out. Logan Mankins became the highest-paid guard in the NFL after missing the first seven games of the 2010 season. Vince Wilfork got a long-term deal in 2014, as did Dont'a Hightower last year. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that Gronk will get his too, especially after the Pats gave him a bump last season that made him the highest-paid tight end in football.
But unless Belichick has lightened up significantly when it comes to his football operation, it's highly unlikely that he was happy with Gronkowski's behavior at his presser on Saturday. It was held at the site of the motocross event, Gillette Stadium - a.k.a. the place where most of the Patriots will work out ahead of the 2018 season.
If Belichick has taught us anything over the past 19 years, it's that something like Gronk's bizarrely flippant attitude toward offseason workouts can't possibly put a smile on his face.
Gronkowski certainly didn't have to definitively answer whether he plans on playing for the Patriots in 2018. That's not the issue. It's that he didn't have to raise a metaphorical middle finger to Belichick, his teammates, and Patriots fans either. Something like "I'm just here to talk about motocross" wouldn't have been nearly as bad of a look as what he actually did.
Still, if Florio's report is to be believed, then this could all turn out to be a silly game with the tight end and the team. Brady, too. Ultimately, the Patriots may get more value out of simply paying Gronkowski rather than trading him. He's too special of a player to really get an appropriate return in a deal.
But if Gronk expected his antics on Saturday to improve his chances of getting the deal he wants and deserves, he may be sorely mistaken.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].
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