Hernandez, Haynesworth, Wright return to practice

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Hernandez, Haynesworth, Wright return to practice

By Phil Perry
CSNNE.com

Patriots practice on Thursday featured appearances by several players who have been out of action for weeks. It appears as though it's all-hands-on-deck for Jets week.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (back) and defensive lineman Mike Wright (concussion) returned to practice for Thursday's full-pads session, according to reports.

Running back Danny Woodhead (ankle), receiver Julian Edelman (ankle), linebacker Jerod Mayo (knee) and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer (back) were not present.

Hernandez wasn't saying much in the locker room on Thursday, but if he's able to return this weekend, he would be a big add for the Patriots offense as they take on the vaunted Jets secondary. As one of Tom Brady's favorite targets to start the season, Hernandez racked up 14 catches for 165 yard and two touchdowns to start the season before injuring his knee in Week 2 against the Chargers.

Haynesworth hasn't been played in almost two weeks and Wright hasn't practiced since he was concussed against Miami in Week 1.

The complete practice participation list for Thursday:

PATRIOTS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Julian Edelman (ankle), LB Jerod Mayo (knee), OT Sebastian Vollmer (back), RB Danny Woodhead (ankle).

LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Kyle Arrington (chest), S Josh Barrett (thumbhamstring), CB Leigh Bodden (groin), S Patrick Chung (hand), CB Ras-I Dowling (hip), DL Shaun Ellis (knee), LB Gary Guyton (hamstring), DL Albert Haynesworth (back), TE Aaron Hernandez (knee), DL Kyle Love (ankle), DL Mike Wright (concussion).

FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Dane Fletcher (thumb).

JETS

OUT: WR Logan Payne (wrist), LB Bryan Thomas (Achilles)

DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Garrett McIntyre (concussion).

LIMITED PARTICIPATION: OL Nick Mangold (ankle), LB Calvin Pace (abdomen).

FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Plaxico Burress (elbow), DB Antonio Cromartie (ribs), DL Mike DeViyo (shoulder), LB David Harris (toe), DB Eric Smith (tricep), DL Muhammad Wilkerson (shoulder).

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.

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10.