If Rob Gronkowski looks as good as the reports suggest — and we’re not talking music videos or crashing Sean Spicer’s White House media briefing anymore — then the rest of the league might be in serious trouble. The New England Patriots might be better next season than the one that just won the Super Bowl.
“He looks like Gronk,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said, via The Boston Herald, of the tight end’s performance at OTAs. “We haven’t got into a big evaluation. He’s involved in everything.”
Remember, the Patriots won it all last season without the services of Gronkowski, who had back surgery on Dec. 2, without him in action most of the year. That’s now three back procedures for the 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end in his career, which is a concerning total, and he was said to have been stretching his back during one drill on the field.
But otherwise, he reportedly was unencumbered and a full go during the drills, which took place in rainy conditions, and didn’t take any reps off. Those are strong indications, barring any setbacks, that he could be at 100 percent and ready for the start of the season as a dominant two-way tight end again. Gronkowski was said to have looked good making leaping catches from all three quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett — and moved around well.
This is a Patriots team that won it all despite losing its best weapon in Gronk, also traded away two high-profile defensive players before and during the season and released former first-round defensive lineman Dominique Easley a little more than a year ago. Throw in the fact that the Patriots kept most of their key free agents this offseason and added several talented veterans and … goodness.
It behooves Gronk financially to play well and stay on the field as much as possible this season given his new contract. His recent restructuring can help him earn up to $5.5 million more than he would have in 2017 if he reaches certain benchmarks for production and playing time or wins individual postseason awards. And if all that happens and Brady remains at the top of his game, more team awards — such as another Super Bowl — could be in the offing for one of the great dynasties this sport has ever seen.
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