When Robert Kraft was asked about Rob Gronkowski's new deal on Wednesday, he hinted at something he's hinted at before: the NFL's salary cap will grow, but slowly.
Were trying to always plan ahead for the future, do our strategic planning, Kraft told the Boston Globe. In this age of salary cap, whats going to happen in the next few years with the cap, you have to have a core group of players that you can plan around as the foundation of your team.
The NFL cap has been a point of contention between the NFL and the NFLPA. The players believe that the cap will spike in 2014, the first year of the new netowrk TV deals. Owners, Kraft chief among them, disagree.
How would a slowly-growing cap help the Patriots? It would keep Gronk's cap number relatively low later in his deal. For a player who will likely be a huge piece of New England's offense, that's a big deal.
Gronkowskis deal has salary-cap numbers of 2.66 million in 2012, 2.75 million in 2013, 5.4 million in 2014, and 8.65 million in 2015.Although Gronkowskis cap number nearly doubles in 2014, it will still remain relatively low for a player who has become such a key part of the offense, until 2015 . . .
. . . In the end, the cap will grow, or not grow, based on a variety of factors, including the ongoing ability, or inability, of teams to sell all of their tickets to games. But to the extent that any 2014 increases in broadcast revenue wont be reflected by the 2014 salary cap, Kraft is correct. The salary cap comes not from revenues in the current year, but from revenues in the prior year. So any spikes in cash flow in 2014 wont be reflected in player salaries until 2015.
FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable.
Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws.
Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)
FOXBORO -- Jimmy Garoppolo spoke Wednesday for the first time since getting his shoulder separated by the Dolphins’ Kiko Alonso. Standing by his locker, Garoppolo was predictably vague about the status of his arm, unless you consider, “Getting better day by day,” as being insightful.
The only two responses offered that were worth a damn came when asked if he could have done anything different when he got squished by Alonso while retreating and buying time.
“Just have to be smart I guess,” said Garoppolo. “I mean, it’s football and stuff’s gonna happen like that, but have to be smart in those situations.”
Asked if he regretted holding the ball as long as he did on a third-down play with the Patriots up 21-0, Garoppolo replied, “After it’s all said and done it’s easy to say that, but it’s one of those things, you’re in the heat of the game. But bottom line I have to be smarter than that.”
Meanwhile, as he worked last week to get back for Thursday night’s game against Houston, The Boston Herald reported that the Patriots were “putting pressure” on Garoppolo to be ready for the game. Working hard to get key players ready for upcoming games is standard operating procedure for a medical staff. Trying to force a player to perform is not.
I asked Garoppolo if he felt unduly pressured. He replied, “No.”