Notes: Belichick on how DBs stick it to wide receivers

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Notes: Belichick on how DBs stick it to wide receivers

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.comFOXBORO -- During Sunday's game against the Jets, a person in the press box well-versed in football statistics but seemingly a little short on football comprehension (and self-awareness) raged every time the Jets threw short of the first-down marker on third down. "They need 6, nice job throwing it 2 yards short of the sticks!" he'd sniff. You may have heard a person like this in your circle of football-watching friends (get rid of him). Or maybe you are that person (shut up, please). The fact is, you can still catch the ball and run for the first down. There's no extra credit for throwing it past the marker. But the problem is, the defense doesn't want you to get to the sticks so they wall up right there. On Monday, Bill Belichick discussed the two plays where New York came up short on third-down completions. Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald brought up the fact that, on both plays, safety James Ihedigbo camped at the sticks, forcing receivers to make a decision. "That's always a dilemma for the receivers," said Belichick. "You can either tell the receiver to go up and get the first down and run into the defender and get covered and hope that he can find a little space where the quarterback can throw it to him. Or you can tell him to shorten his route and get him the ball and hope that he can break a tackle or spin out of it or catch it and fall forward for the first down. "That's one of those things where, it's tough offensively," Belichick added. "I know I've got to get the first down but if I run right to you, I just get covered. If I stop short, then I'm short of the first down. You see all the time the guy doesn't get the yardage. But if a guy is standing right there, do you want to run right to him and be covered? What good does that do?"
A couple other Beli-nuggets on a Monday where the Patriots' locker room was practically vacant and we were left with the (thankfully) upbeat Belichick to fill our notebooks. On crowd noise"When you're down on the field it's like a constant roar. It goes up and it comes down a little bit but it'sa constant roar. I think when you're in the stands, you hear it a little more and having been in the stands for Bruins games and Celtics games, you hear it come to life. I'm not saying there aren't different levels when you're down on the field, but when you're down on the field, 65,000 people just all talking at the same time, there's a volume of noise there directed at the field." On Albert Haynesworth"Did some good things and some things could have been better. Hadn't played in a couple of weeks so hopefully this week he can get more time on the field and build on this week's performance but I think he did some things to help us."

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.