Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (back) was on the field for Thursday's OTA session, hauling in a TD from Tom Brady. Gronk, coming off December surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, deemed himself "ready to roll" back in April. And the Pats letting him participate in OTAs means they're comfortable with his status. Durability remains a concern for Gronkowski, but he'll be healthy heading to training camp.
The Patriots and TE Rob Gronkowski have agreed on a restructured contract for the 2017 season. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Gronk will earn $6.75 million if he reaches 70% of the offensive snaps, 60 receptions, 800 receiving yards or 10 TDs this season.? He'll get $8.75 million if he plays 80% of the snaps, catches 70 balls, tallies 1,000 receiving yards or scores 12 TDs. And getting to 90% of the snaps, 80 catches, 1,200 receiving yards or All-Pro honors would net him $10.75 million. For reference, Gronkowski's career highs in each category are 91.2% of snaps, 90 catches, 1,327 yards and 17 TDs. He's been named All-Pro 4 times. Extra monetary motivation certainly doesn't hurt his 2017 fantasy outlook. Gronk is as cheap as he's been in a long time, with an ADP currently sitting in the late 2nd round.
The Bills declined to match the Patriots' 2-year, $6.4 million contract offer to restricted free agent RB Mike Gillislee. So he's off to New England, while Buffalo receives a 5th-round pick as compensation. Gillislee joins an extremely crowded backfield that includes Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis. Gillislee and Burkhead figure to be battling mostly for early-down, ball-carrying duties. And, most importantly, the goal-line role. Patriots RBs have averaged 16.4 rushing scores over the past 5 seasons, with 18+ in 3 of those. In Buffalo, meanwhile, talented 2nd-year RB Jonathan Williams now has a big opportunity to step in as LeSean McCoy's backup.
On the same day they signed Bills RFA RB Mike Gillislee to an offer sheet, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots signed RB James White to a 3-year extension. The Super Bowl star would have been facing unrestricted free agency at the end of the 2017 season but is now under contract through 2020. With White, Dion Lewis and the additions of Rex Burkhead and Gillislee (unless the Bills match), New England's backfield is looking quite crowded. It's a high-value situation, but the committee could prove tough to predict week to week for fantasy football owners. All 4 RBs carry some late-round intrigue -- especially in early best-ball drafting -- though White's new deal might threaten Lewis the most. We'll be watching this situation develop into and through the summer.
The Patriots signed restricted free agent RB Mike Gillislee to a 2-year offer sheet worth $6.4 million. The deal includes $4 million in year 1. Buffalo has 5 days to match the offer, although a shortage of cap space might lead them to pass. In New England, Gillislee would join a loaded backfield that includes Dion Lewis, James White and Rex Burkhead. If you're drafting in MFL10s or FFPC Draft Experts leagues right now, we'd recommend avoiding LeGarrette Blount while the Gillislee situation plays out.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski said Sunday that he'll be "ready to roll" for the start of the offseason program. That was a few hours before he did this at Wrestlemania -- an appearance we're sure was fully endorsed by the Pats. Gronk is 4 months removed from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. It's unclear how much the team will let him do in spring workouts, but he's certainly on track to be a full-go when fantasy owners need him.
The Patriots signed RB Rex Burkhead. He joins Dion Lewis and James White in the backfield. (RB LeGarrette Blount remains a free agent.) Burkhead was mostly a special-teamer in Cincinnati but flashed when given a bigger opportunity this past year, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per catch. That included a 144-total-yard, 2-TD outing against the Ravens in Week 17. At 5'10, 210 pounds, Burkhead is the biggest of New England's top 3 backs (5 pounds heavier than White). He could be a sneaky option for early-down work, although stealing significant passing-down action from White and Lewis will be tough. As usual, we'll need to keep a close eye on the Patriots' backfield this summer.
The Patriots have acquired WR Brandin Cooks from the Saints, sending a 1st- and a 3rd-round pick and getting back a 4th-rounder. Cooks caught 162 passes over the past 2 seasons, topping 1,100 yards in each campaign and scoring 17 TDs over that span. He finished among the top 13 WRs across fantasy formats in each of those seasons. The Pats control his rights for the next 2 years, including a team option for 2018. Cooks lands in 1 of the few offenses that approximates the efficiency of New Orleans and figures to quickly challenge Julian Edelman for the team target lead. His fantasy outlook doesn't change drastically from what it's been with the Saints. Other WRs in New England will have more trouble finding regular opportunities. Back in New Orleans, Michael Thomas should grab a larger share of targets, while Willie Snead stands to gain if the team doesn't add anything more than Ted Ginn to the corps this offseason.
The Patriots have acquired TE Dwayne Allen from the Colts. No word yet on the compensation. Allen turned in a promising rookie season, tallying 521 yards and 3 scores on 45 grabs. But he's missed 23 games and totaled just 81 catches over the past 4 seasons. He was passed by Jack Doyle on the depth chart last year. Allen remains just 27, though, and landing in New England gives him a chance to revive his career. If nothing else, he's a strong blocker and red-zone presence. Allen has scored on 19 of 126 career catches -- a 15.1% TD rate. He'll make for an intriguing TE2 pick in 2017 fantasy football drafts. Allen's arrival means TE Martellus Bennett won't be back in New England. Jack Doyle, meanwhile, appears locked in as the Colts' lead TE.
Update: New England shipped a 4th-round pick to Indianapolis in exchange for Allen and a 6th-rounder.
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski said Friday that he has "no doubt" he'll be ready for Week 1. He underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back. It was his 3rd back surgery -- the 1st coming in 2009, the 2nd in 2013. It's still unclear how much Gronk will be able to do this offseason. Despite the durability problems, he remains fantasy football's #1 TE. We're curious to see where he'll go in 2017 drafts.
Patriots RB Dion Lewis injured his hamstring late in the Super Bowl victory over the Falcons, he told reporters after the game. Lewis actually said he "tweaked" the hammy early on, which at least partially explains why he finished with just 7 touches. The injury shouldn't impact Lewis' offseason. He'll be back with New England in 2017, the final year of his current contract, but his role is murky after an injury-riddled and inconsistent 2016.
Patriots WRs Chris Hogan (thigh) and Malcolm Mitchell (knee) are active for tonight's AFC Championship against the Steelers. WR Michael Floyd is a healthy scratch, leaving Danny Amendola as the #4 WR.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Patriots WRs Chris Hogan (thigh) and Malcolm Mitchell (ankle) are both expected to play against the Steelers today. They figure to join Julian Edelman as New England's top 3 WRs and are viable DFS plays.
The Patriots listed WR Chris Hogan (thigh) as questionable for Sunday's AFC Championship against the Steelers. He was limited in practice all week. Hogan is fully expected to play, but it looks like he won't be operating at 100%.
Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Steelers after a limited week of practice. He's in the same boat as last week, when he ended up inactive. There's more optimism about Mitchell's availability this weekend, though. "It's trending in the right direction," ESPN's Mike Reiss tweeted on Friday afternoon. We'll find out Mitchell's official status around 5 pm ET on Sunday.
Patriots WR Chris Hogan injured his thigh late in last weekend's win over the Texans. He suggested Tuesday, though, that he could have returned to that one and should be available for Sunday's AFC Championship. “Feeling good, just had a little minor setback in the game, but I’m working back every single day and feeling better every day,” Hogan said. We'll keep an eye on his practice reps this week, but look for him to be out there vs. the Steelers.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) won't play against the Texans tonight. That figures to leave Chris Hogan as the #2 WR alongside JulIan Edelman. We're betting on WR Michael Floyd playing the 3rd most snaps, with Danny Amendola as the #4 WR.
Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) is listed as questionable for Saturday night's game against Texans. He was limited in practice all week, and the New England media hasn't sounded very optimistic about his status. We probably won't find out Mitchell's official status until inactives are announced around 7 pm ET.
Patriots WR Danny Amendola (ankle) put in a full practice on Wednesday, putting him on track to return for this weekend's game against the Texans. He's been out since Week 13. Amendola will join a crowded WR group that also includes Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Michael Floyd and potentially Malcolm Mitchell, who was limited on Wednesday with his knee injury.
Patriots WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee) returned to practice on Thursday. That seemingly puts him on track to play in the Divisional Round after missing the regular season finale. Mitchell averaged 4.2 catches, 51 yards and .67 TDs over his last 6 games.
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