McCourty advice for Butler: 'Do what's best for yourself'

McCourty advice for Butler: 'Do what's best for yourself'

Devin McCourty's been through the free-agency dance before. Following the 2014 season, he hit unrestricted free agency and heard offers from other clubs before deciding to return to New England.

Malcolm Butler's situation isn't quite the same -- he's a restricted free agent this offseason -- but McCourty would advise him the same way he advises any player looking at his options: Do what's best for you and yours. 

During his recent visit with Quick Slants the Podcast, McCourty said he hasn't been pressuring Butler one way or the other.

"The thing is, with us, we're all close enough that we don't have to tell anybody we want them back," McCourty said. "Everybody knows how much we enjoy playing with each other. I just tell him . . . 'Do what's best for yourself, whether that's back here -- which I would love -- or if it's somewhere else I'm not going to hate you forever.'

"You gotta understand, man, this business, contract-wise it's individual-based. The secondary doesn't get paid for one guy's contract. It's just your contract. So you always have to look out for what's best for you and your family."

In speaking to reporters following an appearance at the Play it Forward summit at Boston University on Friday, McCourty explained that he would love to have Butler back if it made sense for all sides.

"For me, I hope to get to play with him another year and hopefully beyond," McCourty said. "But a lot of that is out of my control. I try not to get too involved in the contract and personal matters, but just give my advice to players from things I've experienced and just tell them to do what's best for themselves and their family . . .

"There's not going to be a player that comes in and says, 'Malcolm what's going on? You need to figure something . . .' Guys undertand the business part of it and the respect in the locker room, the different things he's done to help us, his work ehtic, all that doesn't change. Guys still love and respect him, whether he signs and comes back or whatever happens. Guys don't care about that.

"That's the cool thing about getting to know guys and becoming friends, it goes beyond playing together and being on the football field. You look at guys like Vince [Wilfork] and Jerod [Mayo], guys that for me I thought I would be playing witt for my whole career. Things happen. Things change, but it doesn't change the relationship I have with those guys.

"I expect him to be back, probably. Obviously I don't know. I haven't really had any contact with anyone other than just laughing and joking text messages. We'll see what happens. Exciting time. I always tell people if other teams want you and your team wants you it's a good thing. He just has to have fun and enjoy it."

Butler has until April 21 to sign any offer sheet he's been extended from another club. If he signs elsewhere, the Patriots will have the opportunity to match the deal. If the Patriots opt not to match, they would be entitled to the first-round pick of Butler's new club.

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.