Curran: McGinest is last guy who should rip Welker

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Curran: McGinest is last guy who should rip Welker

Less than a month after Bill Parcells selected Willie McGinest with the fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft, McGinest agreed to a four-year, 6 million contract with the Patriots.

In 1998, the Patriots retained the free agent McGinest, making him the highest paid defensive end in professional football with a five-year, 25 million deal that had 8 million guaranteed.

In 2002, the Patriots made sure McGinest stayed in New England with a four-year, 16 million extension that included 9 million in salary over the first three years.

Finally in 2006, after the Patriots cut McGinest because of cap concerns, Willie found a golden parachute in Cleveland signing a three-year, 12 million contract with 6 million guaranteed.

Over a 12-year period, McGinest signed contracts with a combined value of 69 million. NFL contracts being what they are, McGinest probably made about 50 million.

So when McGinest takes aim at Wes Welker, the response from Welker should be, "Easy for you to say, Willie, you got your money."

On Tuesday, McGinest sounded uncommonly ill-informed when he ripped Welker on the NFL Network.

"I just dont like the diva attitude," McGinest began. "Lets keep it real: prior to the Patriots, this is a guy who played three years, had 96 receptions and never had a 1,000-yard season. Due to a big part of the Patriots offensive system and Tom Brady, hes had five years where hes had over 100 catches. Of those five years until he got hurt 2010, he had over 1,000 yards receiving each year.Lets just keep everything in perspective: a big part of that is due to the Patriots . . ."

MORE: Welker, McGinest spar on Twitter

A little more perspective. Welker signed a five-year, 18 million deal with the Patriots in 2007 and -- in an era in which salaries ballooned -- he outperformed his deal. By a ridiculous amount.

Didn't bitch. Never mailed it in. Never made a public peep about how the Patriots were getting over on him.

Now Welker's been extended the 9.5 million franchise tag by the Patriots. Did he scoff at that? No. He did the opposite on the same set McGinest ripped him from.

"I mean, it's a lot of money. How can you ever be upset about that?" Welker said on April 13. "It's not a bad deal, so I'm not too worried about it."

The backstory to Welker's situation that eludes McGinest is that the Patriots applied the tag and released this statement on March 5.

"Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007. Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal. Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come."
And there have been no talks held and no progress made toward ensuring that. So why would Welker want to sign the tag and show up for OTAs and a minicamp? Why reward the Patriots further with more loyalty when they haven't yet come close to meeting him halfway?

McGinest's finger-wagging got more personal and included more revisionist history when he said, "So look Wes, its time to take off the leopard-printed cowboy boots, get off the party tour and get back to work. During my tenure in New England, no matter how big you were or who you were, nobody said that they werent coming to a mandatory minicamp. If you know anything about New England, understand that youre expendable. Unless youre Bill Belichick or Tom Brady, youre expendable."

The minicamps are mandatory when you're under contract. Welker's not.

Check this out, the NFL salary cap was 52.388 million when McGinest signed for 5 years and 25 million. When Welker signed for 5 years and 18 million, the cap was more than twice that (109 million).

Ten years after McGinest got that 6 million rookie deal, Welker -- undrafted -- made 37,059 with the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Over Welker's next three seasons with the Dolphins, he made 932,000.

McGinest went to two Pro Bowls and missed 21 games in his 12-season tenure in New England. Welker's a four-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro who -- despite blowing an ACL -- has missed just three games in five seasons.

When it comes to bang for the buck, what Welker has brought the Patriots exceeds what McGinest brought them. And it's not even close.

If anybody's going to pound the desk and criticize Wes Welker, Willie McGinest is probably the last guy who should be doing so.

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.