Reports: Patriots, Gronkowski working on deal

661390.jpg

Reports: Patriots, Gronkowski working on deal

According to several reports, the Patriots are re-negotiating the contract of tight end Rob Gronkowski. It appears nothing has been finalized just yet, and it is unclear whether the Patriots are restructuring the final two years of Gronkowski's current deal or if they are working to give him an extension.

Gronkowski, a second-round pick in 2010, is scheduled to make 540,000 this season and 575,000 in 2013, the final two years of his four-year rookie deal.

In just two seasons, Gronkowski has already solidified his position among the NFL's best tight ends. In 2011, he set records when he caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. He added another score on a two-yard run.

Gronkowski played Super Bowl XLVI with a badly sprained ankle he suffered in the AFC Championship Game against the Ravens. He had surgery soon after the season to repair the damage and has been seen rehabbing the injury during Patriots OTAs.

The Patriots don't often re-do rookie deals (though just last year they gave Jerod Mayo a 5-year extension before his five-year contract was set to expire at the end of the 2012 season). But it would make sense for them to either a) lock up arguably the best tight end in football with an extension or b) simply give him a raise in the final two years of his current deal in order to gain some favor and perhaps avoid a messy negotiation in two years when Gronkowski could try to set the market for players at his position.

More to come . . .

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

It's been almost two years exactly since the Deflategate saga began during the AFC title game between the Colts and Patriots on Jan. 18, 2015.

Since then, Robert Kraft has expressed his displeasure at how the whole thing was handled by the league -- particularly as it relates to the treatment of quarterback Tom Brady -- on multiple occasions. And according to a story in the New York Times, that feeling hasn't subsided.

"Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly," said Kraft . "But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything.

"I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse."

Brady served his four-game suspension to start this season, and Kraft opted to accept the league's punishment for the team following the 2014 season: They were docked two draft picks (a first and a fourth) and fined $1 million.

The piece includes Kraft's thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump ("Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend," Kraft said), as well as comments from others on how Kraft has handled his situation ("I think Bob has exhibited disagreement, but he’s also very capable of making and influencing change," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said). 

You can read the full piece here.

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

steelers-leveon-bell.jpg

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had perfect attendance at each of their last two practices. The Steelers, on the other hand, have been working with less than a full deck.

All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has been conspiculously absent from Pittsburgh's practices each of the last two days. On Wednesday, he was listed on the injury report as a non-participant due to non-injury related reasons. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell had been excused from practice due to "personal reasons."

Tomlin added that Bell will be ready to go against the Patriots on Sunday so it seems as though the team is painting this as a nothing-to-see-here situation. And it probably is. Whether or not Bell practices at all this week won't necessarily have any bearing on the AFC title game; if he's healthy, he'll be a factor. 

If for some reason he doesn't follow up his 170-yard performance against the Chiefs with another strong game, however, people will wonder how his preparation was impacted by missing out on the first two of his team's on-the-field sessions this week.