Belichick: For us, it's a crash landing

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Belichick: For us, it's a crash landing

FOXBORO -- There was no dour eulogy on the 2012 season from Bill Belichick Monday morning.
The Patriots coach did stand up to debrief reporters some 12 hours after from New England's AFC Championship loss to Baltimore.
He was steady and, for the most part, patient.
"I thought there were a lot of positives from this football team," he said. "It's a team I enjoyed coaching. The players worked hard behind the scenes -- everybody doesn't see that -- on a day-to-day basis. They worked hard, they competed well, they didn't make excuses, they got better over the course of the season, both individually and collectively. And we wouldn't have gotten to where we were without a lot of good, consistent performances from a lot of people in a number of games, and countless practices and meetings, and all the things that lead up to that.
"Certainly the outcome yesterday is not where we wanted to end up, but I have to give these guys a lot of credit for what they did do, the number of times they did it in tough situations. Hopefully we continue to build on that. I don't think anything from this year means too much for next year. Each year is a new year; we start all over again, just like everybody else does."
Belichick's even keel was briefly upset when he was asked what the year's positives are. He spat back New England's 13 regular season wins.
"We played in an AFC Championship game," he said. "There arent a whole lot of teams that are saying that."
Falling just short of the title game is blatantly devastating. Worse, the feeling is compounded by last season's Super Bowl loss and the desire for redemption. But Belichick's was the picture of composure Monday -- a man hardened by almost four decades in the league.
It's not that he finds losing easier to accept. Quite the contrary -- there is no bracing yourself.
"You play a game at this time of year and it's either euphoria or it's a crash landing. So for us, it's a crash landing," Belichick said. "A year ago at this time it was the other feeling. But it's one or the other; there's no between. And there's certainly no soft landing. A season thats very much alive and with great hopes and expectations and energy suddenly crashes and its over. Thats the way it is. Its going to be for every team but one this year."
Maybe it's just easier to see what's on the other side.
"You stop; it's over," Belichick said. "We're on to next year."

It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

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It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

Gronkowski says he has 'no doubt' he'll be ready for start of next season

When it comes to projecting Rob Gronkowski's health, it's been best to steer clear of absolutes. There have been too many injuries, too many surgeries, to predict exactly how he'll feel months in advance. 

Still, in speaking with ESPN's Cari Champion recently, he said he had "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1 of the 2017 regular season. 

"Yes, for sure," he replied when asked if he expected to be good to go. 

Gronkowski also fielded a question about his long-term future in the sit-down. Lately it's been his coach Bill Belichick and his quarterback Tom  Brady who receiver all the life-after-football queries, but Gronkowski, 27, was asked how much longer he'd like to play. 

"I’m not really sure," he said. "I mean, I still love playing the game, and as of right now, I want to play as long as I possibly could play. My mindset is to keep on going."

Gronkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve in December after undergoing a procedure on his back -- his third back surgery since 2009. He's had nine reported surgeries -- including procedures on his knee, forearm and ankle -- since his final year at the University of Arizona.