New England

Pieces of Patriots Off-Season Puzzle Come Together

At times tumultuous, the off-season is officially in the rear view mirror for the New England Patriots following a 27-20 Week 1 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Prior to the game, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network dropped several interesting nuggets which tied up some remaining loose ends from the chaotic spring and summer.

Rob Gronkowski caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in Sunday's win, and according to Rapoport, that's the only way Gronk would have scored on Sunday. When the Patriots had trade talks involving Gronkowski this off-season, the 29-year-old tight end threatened to retire, ending any discussions before they advanced further.

"He was adamant that he would either retire or remain with the Patriots," Rapoport said on NFL Game Day. The Patriots reworked Gronkowski's contract for the upcoming season, giving him a chance to earn an extra $3.3 million should he reach performance-based incentives.

Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels accepted the head coaching job of the Indianapolis Colts -- briefly -- in February before opting to remain with the Patriots at the last second. It's suddenly a lot more clear why McDaniels had an about-face, as New England rewarded him with a new five-year contract that makes him the highest paid coordinator in the NFL, according to Rapoport. His salary, in line with what first-time NFL coaches make, will surpass $4 million annually near its conclusion.

There's also some more clarity surrounding Brady's personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, and his situation with the team. Perhaps the chief cause of the strife in Foxboro, Rapoport said there's been a compromise of sorts reached between Brady and the team as it pertains to his guru. Brady -- and Gronkowski -- still get to use Guerrero whenever they like, and Guerrero will be allowed to travel with the team, although he may not go on quite as many trips as in previous years. Guerrero was on the Patriots team plane to North Carolina for their preseason game vs. the Panthers in August.

"The goal for everyone is to make sure there's no more Alex Guerrero issue discussed during this coming season," Rapoport said on NFL Game Day.

In other news, wide receiver Dez Bryant remains unsigned through Week 1 of the regular season following his release from the Dallas Cowboys. Bryant took to Twitter on Sunday to take several jabs at his former team, which lost 16-8 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. When he responded to a Cowboys fan imploring him to return to America's Team, it was clear Bryant has moved on from the Cowboys. Among his preferred destinations? Foxboro.

The play of Phillip Dorsett on Sunday (seven catches, 66 yards and a touchdown) certainly eased concerns on New England's depth at wide receiver, but until Bryant finally does sign with another team, the clamoring likely won't stop. Bryant, 29, caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns with the Cowboys in 2017.

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