Belichick: A quick response to Ryan


Belichick: A quick response to Ryan

By Tom E. Curran

Aside from noting that rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes is rusty since his return from a four-game suspension, not much emanated from a round of conference calls with Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and linebackers coach Matt Patricia today. So we'll keep tossing logs on the obligatory verbal warfare. Belichick engaged a bit, answering thusly when asked about Ryan's proclamation this is "Ryan vs. Belichick." "Well, I might have a little quickness on him," said Belichick. "Hes probably got a little more strength and power on me. So, I dont think youll see either one of us out there making any blocks or tackles or runs or throws or catches. At least you wont see me doing it. Its probably a good thing for our team." Belichick really has yet to publicly show any irritation with Ryan.Really, since he'sjoined the Jets, Belichick seems wholly unperturbed by Ryan. Amused, even. Maybe because, in the end, Ryan's just doing Belichick's motivational work for him. Asked about Ryan's approach, Belichick said,"I just try to coach my team. Im not really worried about how everybody else coaches theirs. Everybodys got their own style and a lot of coaches do a great job. Rex does a great job with his team. Im just trying to coach mine. Im not really worried about what anybody else is doing."

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When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

When it comes to Gronkowski's restructured deal, 15 is the magic number

Rob Gronkowski's contract looked like one of the NFL's best bargains not too long ago. Now, after agreeing to a contract restructure, he could be paid as the top tight end in the league if he stays healthy.

Granted, it's a gargantuan "if."

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gronkowski's restructured deal will bump his salary for this upcoming season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million should he hit certain statistical thresholds or be named an All-Pro.

Per Schefter, Gronkowski earns $10.75 million if he plays 90 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done once before in his career), or makes 80 catches (which he's done twice), or gains 1,200 yards receiving (once), or is named an All-Pro (three times). 

Those seem like lofty goals for the 28-year-old who's entering his eighth year as a pro. But history shows that if he stays on the field for a full season or thereabouts -- 15 games to be specific -- he'll get to where he wants to be. 

If you take out his rookie year, before he had established himself as a go-to option in the Patriots offense, Gronkowski has played in three seasons during which he's reached at least 15 games. In each of those three seasons, he's been named an All-Pro. In 2011, he hit all three statistical markers. In 2014, he hit one. In 2015, he hit none. 

The lesson? When Gronkowski stays relatively healthy throughout a given season, even if he doesn't reach the astronomical statistical heights he reached in his second year, there's a very good chance he's considered the best tight end in the NFL. 

And if that's the case again in 2017, he'll be paid like the best tight end in the NFL.

To hit the second tier of his restructured deal -- which would pay him $8.75 million, per Schefter -- Gronkowski needs to play 80 percent of the offensive snaps (which he's done twice), or make 70 catches (three times), or gain 1,000 receiving yards (three times), or catch 12 touchdowns (twice). 

To hit the third tier of his new deal and get $6.75 million, Gronkowski needs to play 70 percent of the snaps (which he's done four times), or make 60 catches (three times), or gain 800 receiving yards (three times), or score 10 touchdowns (five times). 

According to Spotrac, Jimmy Graham of the Seahawks is currently scheduled to be the tight end position's top earner next season at $10 million. Odds are that if Gronkowski avoids disaster and stays on the field, he'll eclipse that.

But the odds of him staying on the field are what they are: He's played in 15 games in four of seven pro seasons. 

The restructured deal seems to be the ultimate incentive for Gronkowski to get healthy and stay that way following last year's season-ending back surgery. If he can, the Patriots will reap the benefits of having the game's most dynamic offensive weapon on the field, and the player will be paid a far cry from what he was scheduled to make when the week began.