Rob Gronkowski is still considered likely to play for the Patriots this season. But the star tight end is not expected to attend the start of New England’s offseason workout program, which kicks off Monday.
As first reported Sunday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gronkowski is still mulling a return to the Patriots after expressing ambivalence in the immediate wake of New England’s Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, telling reporters at the time: “I’m definitely going to look at my future, for sure. I’m going to sit down in the next couple weeks and see where I’m at.”
There also has been speculation that the Patriots might be open to trading Gronkowski, whose fun-loving persona has long stood at odds with the team’s notoriously businesslike culture under Bill Belichick. New England’s coach has generally been thought to be willing to put up with Gronkowski’s free-spirited ways because of the undeniable effectiveness of the tight end, who has been named a first-team all-pro four times in his eight seasons.
Gronkowski’s career has also been marked by injuries; he hasn’t played in all 16 games since 2011. In an effort to stay healthy, he began going to Tom Brady’s TB12 clinic last year, working out with the quarterback’s personal fitness guru, Alex Guerrero. He has reportedly continued to do so, indicating possible interest in extending his NFL career.
But that association with Guerrero may have irked Belichick, who has been reported to be unhappy with so many of his players preferring Brady’s trainer over his team’s staff. According to the Boston Herald, at one point early last season, Belichick “chastised Gronk in front of the players for being a TB12 client.”
The team’s upcoming workouts are voluntary, but few New England players presumably would want to risk Belichick’s displeasure by skipping them. Another player set to miss the start of the program is Brady, who has been in Qatar for the past few days.
“We have the voluntary offseason program that starts on Monday,” Belichick said last week. “It will be heavily attended, but I know there are a couple players that I’ve talked to that have other commitments, but that’s the way it always is. So, not really anything new there.”
According to the Herald, Gronkowski’s camp has been in contact recently with the Patriots, with his contract being one subject of discussion. The 28-year-old has two years left on a six-year, $54 million extension he signed in 2012. He is the fourth-highest-paid tight end, per Spotrac, behind the Packers’ Jimmy Graham, the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and the Redskins’ Jordan Reed.
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