Gronkowski apologizes for bye week photos

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Gronkowski apologizes for bye week photos

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski was clearly made to feel bad about his choice of bye week running mates. The second-year tight end, photographed shirtless with porn star Bibi Jones (she had a shirt on; it was Gronk's blue game jersey), made a stammering apology for whatever offense he perpertrated. "I didn't intend anything to hurt the reputation of anyone on the New England Patriots," said Gronkowski on Wednesday. "On behalf of Robert Kraft and that's all and it's just a simple picture and that's all and uh, from here on out I'm just here to talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the big game this weekend."Gronk isn't built for this kind of thing. The synapses were firing faster than he could articulate what he meant. And, clearly, he wasn't sure what he needed to apologize for. I'm with him. He's an unmarried 21-year-old who had his photo taken with a porn star and shared it with the general populace. But the devil can be found in the details if you look hard enough. Bill Belichick asked his players not to make bye week headlines and Gronk did (and didn't have the foresight to realize how this would be a blood-in-the-water story). Although porn stars are allowed to wear whatever they please (though if they wear too much too often, they may be out of work), Gronk associating the Patriots' brand with the Bibi Jones brand was probably not something that ownership felt was awesome. Dumb choice. But in all honesty, it would have been better off left to blow over (ahem) than having Gronk fall on his sword in front of the media. Whether Gronk will serve penance beyond the embarrassment remains to be seen. Last year, Wes Welker sat out the first offensive series against the Jets after press conference several references to Rex Ryan's personal life. Belichick had asked the team that week not to incite media coverage with trash talk. Welker's foot comments stepped over the line in Belichick's view.

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.