McCourty expects to be challenged by Rivers

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McCourty expects to be challenged by Rivers

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
FOXBORO -- Philip Rivers threw one interception last year when the SanDiego Chargers hosted the New England Patriots in Week 7.

That interception was made by then-rookie cornerback DevinMcCourty. It was McCourtys first career interception.

Six more picks later, McCourty finished his standout rookiecampaign with seven total interceptions, and most certainly opened the eyes ofall quarterbacks and offensive coordinators around the league.

Now in his second season, McCourty is preparing to faceRivers and the high-powered Chargers offense for a second time, this Sunday atGillette Stadium.

Youve got to just compete, said McCourty on Thursday.This week, with Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd both being the receivers,theyre guys that can get vertical down the field as well. So weve got ourhands full again.

Thats what you kind of expect. In the NFL, you have morereceivers that are bigger guys and still can run very well and run good routes.So each week, youve got to be ready to go against top guys.

The Chargers are presumably saying the same thing aboutMcCourty, after the game he played against them last year, and the strongseason he finished with.

Still, McCourty believes teams are going to take theirchances, even if hes put himself on the map.

Last year I came in and I was a rookie, and I was asked thesame question as a rookie, Do you think theyll challenge you deep? And Isaid, Yea and they did, said McCourty. This year, with the guys we have upfront, I mean, of course, still, Im only in my second year, and we got Ras-IDowling out there with Kyle Arrington and me. Teams are going to take theirchances.

They have good receivers. They believe in their receivers.So theyre always going to take those chances down the field.

I dont believe in those kind of things, added McCourty.I dont think offenses or players look at what youve done before and say,You know what, were going to leave that guy alone today. As a corner, Iexpect each week to go out there and be challenged, because this week weregoing out there, and weve got Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson, with PhilipRivers. I dont think theyre going to look at me and say, Were not throwingover there.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

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.