Loss to Jets still eats at Patriots' Koppen

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Loss to Jets still eats at Patriots' Koppen

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

DALLAS - It couldn't have been fun for the three Patriots offensive linemen. From the DFW Airport to the downtown Dallas Convention Center, billboards praising the Steelers and Packers for their Super Bowl appearance were impossible to miss. And here were Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir on Thursday picking up an award from an acid reflux company for being named the best offensive line in the NFL.
Koppen had no plans to even sample the Super Bowl scene. He came down Wednesday night and will leave Thursday night. His wife is expecting their second son in three weeks. "We definitely would have liked to be here under different circumstances, but that's the way it works. That's the NFL," said Koppen. "We didn't earn our spot to be here. We'll just have to deal with that and learn from it and get better. It's bittersweet."Koppen hasn't yet watched the tape of that Divisional Playoff loss to the Jets but said, "I might have to watch it just to put it to rest."Asked if it's agitating to know the Patriots lost because of inefficiency rather than being overmatched, Koppen said, "We got to go out there and play the game on Sunday regardless of what we did in the past or the regular season. Come playoff time it's one and done, and we weren't the best team on the field that day and we have to deal with that." The Patriots offensive line could be in flux. Stephen Neal's annual shoulder injury came again. Matt Light's a free agent. Logan Mankins is unhappy he has no new deal and will probably be franchised. "I don't get paid to make decisions," said Koppen when asked about the possible transition on the left side of the line. "Matt's been a great player for us for a long time and I hope he continues to be a great player for us. I think he's a Patriots type of player. With Logan's deal, it's not unheard of. There's a lot of movement, coaches, players (note: I have no idea what he means there; just dropping words, apparently), but those are two guys we'd like to have."The looming battle between owners and players has Koppen's attention. "It's concerning," he admitted. "This is what we do. That being said, there are certain things theNFL wants and certain things the players want." As for the chore of keeping in shape if labor strife drags, Koppen said players normally take a month off and then start training on their own. "With whatever happens with that, if you're a professional athlete you need to be able to handle it by yourself," he said.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

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.