By Danny Cox
As the postseason arrives, the New England Patriots are waiting to see just who they will face in the Divisional Round of the playoffs after the Wild Card weekend. They can prepare this week, but they will have to change things up a bit once their opponent is finally determined for the game
While they’re waiting for that bit of news, the Pats have to deal with a few other issues off of the field.
Rob Gronkowski misses huge bonus after lackluster season finale
Rob Gronkowski’s one-game suspension from earlier this season did not help matters much as he looked to hit a certain statistic level to earn a higher bonus. Still, he had the chance of hitting those marks anyway, and could have collected a $2 million bonus with an amazing performance against the New York Jets in the season finale.
Unfortunately for him, that didn’t happen and, as a matter of fact, he didn’t even come close.
Heading into the final game of the season, Gronk needed to have either 11 receptions or 116 receiving yards to trigger that level of bonus in his contract. Not only did he come up short, but Gronkowski was not even targeted a single time against the Jets and he ended up finishing the day without earning that bonus.
It isn’t all bad, though, as he still earned a $3.5 million bonus for having more than 1,000 receiving yards this season. A selection to the NFL’s All-Pro team would earn him another $2.5 million, and the Patriots are also the current favorites to win the Super Bowl, so that counts for something.
Malcolm Mitchell’s status up in the air for the postseason
All season, Tom Brady has been without one of his best receivers in Malcolm Mitchell, who has been on injured reserve for 16 weeks with a knee problem. It has been noticeably obvious at times that Mitchell’s speed and talent has been missing on offense, but the Patriots don’t want to rush him back from injury, either.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is not really sure if the speedy receiver will be on the active roster for the playoffs, but they’re letting nature take its course.
“Those decisions are certainly going to be made by Coach [Bill] Belichick and our medical people, but it was good to have him out there. Not sure what that will lead to, as with every player coming back from some type of an injury or rehab,” McDaniels said on Monday.
Mitchell has been back practicing in a limited capacity, and things are looking better, but it’s not yet known if he will be game-ready in a week-and-a-half. The Patriots are certainly hoping that he will be.
Bill Belichick likes to talk about punting…a lot
The New England Patriots have been known for their explosive offensive prowess for years and even their strong defense at times, but head coach Bill Belichick knows there is much more to his team. During the coach’s conference call on Tuesday, he ended up on the topic of special teams and he decided to talk for quite some time.
Patriots punter Ryan Allen has been quite effective this season and Belichick wanted to let everyone know that—and that’s just what he did for a good 25 minutes. From there, he discusses kickers and long snappers and virtually everyone else who plays on special teams.
Never let it be said that Belichick doesn’t appreciate every single member of his team and the positions they play.