The Facts: Following up on the ongoing saga. ... The fact that Tom Brady hasn’t specifically said that he’ll play this year (unless he has) likely isn’t a big deal. The fact that Rob Gronkowski hasn’t is more significant. In the end, however, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Patriots expect both players to suit up and play in 2018.
Diehards Line: But as PFT's Mike Florio notes, that doesn’t mean all is well. Gronkowski has taken his trademark individuality to the extreme this offseason, declining to declare that he’ll play and, most recently, arguably trolling HC Bill Belichick over Gronkowski’s obvious intention to treat voluntary workouts as just that. It’s possible Gronkowski simply wants more money, and that if the team wants to address a contract that will pay Gronk $8 million this year, maybe Gronk will have more enthusiasm about April, May, and June non-mandatory practices. Apart from Gronkowski’s satisfaction or lack thereof with his pay, there’s also a belief that Gronkowski, Brady, and other Patriots continue to be salty about the inexplicable -- and still unexplained -- benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. The questions will linger until an explanation for Butler’s benching is provided. But that may not end the debate, especially if the explanation doesn’t fully explain something that perhaps can’t be.