Why are Patriots wideouts being kept quiet?

587690.jpg

Why are Patriots wideouts being kept quiet?

To see Tom Brady go 15-for-27 passing isn't too shabby -- for a half.

But for TB12 to do so for an entire game, even if it was in a convincing 34-3 home win over Kansas City, it gets the attention of many. Brady included.

In his weekly interview with WEEI, Brady was asked about the Patriots' passing game; specifically, how the team's outside receivers only had four catches total.

"Well, we only had 15 receptions (as a team)," Brady said. "We weren't 27-of-40. We were 15-of-27."

The knee-jerk reaction to those numbers is that the outside receivers simply weren't open.

"It's not that they're not open, I'll tell you that," Brady said. "There's definitely times where I've got to get them the ball. And they're running good routes, it's against a tough coverage, and sometimes it's double coverage and they're doing a good job of getting open."

Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien said there's a lot more to the outside receivers not getting the ball as much.

"It all works together," O'Brien said. "It's the protection; it's the route, the coverage that we see. It's not just the outside receivers aren't open . . . it's a combination of, maybe something flashed in front of his (Brady's) eyes that he liked better that didn't take him through the rest of the read. It's a combination of a lot of factors that ironed themselves out as the game went on."

Indeed, New England's tight ends seemed to be benefiting more than anyone else by the way Kansas City's defense played the Pat's wideouts.

Rob Gronkowski continues to play at a Pro Bowl level this season, grabbing four catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns. New England's other tight end, Aaron Hernandez, had four grabs for 44 yards.

Still, you're talking about a New England team that understands there is room to grow in all phases of their play, regardless of if they win or not.

And getting the ball in the hands of the team's outside receivers like Deion Branch, is indeed an area the Patriots recognize can be better -- a lot better -- than it is now.

"Obviously it's something that we're going to work on and continue to work on," O'Brien said.

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.