The New England Patriots’ offseason continues to be turbulent as the defending AFC champions deal with the potential retirements of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
But what if money isn’t the only reason for the discontent in Foxboro, Mass.?
In a piece written Sunday, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio reported that the Patriots expect both Brady and Gronkowski to play in 2018, but he also noted that it is believed that the duo, along with other Patriots, still are upset with head coach Bill Belichick over his controversial decision to bench Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII.
“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,” Florio writes.
While Florio noted there has yet to be any concrete evidence to support these theories, it does jive with the gripes that former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola revealed he had after he signed with the Miami Dolphins.
Belichick still hasn’t revealed why he benched one his best defensive players in the biggest game of the season, and it makes sense why players would be upset with a decision that had a direct impact on their ability to win their third Super Bowl in four years.
Brady, 40, is inching closer to retirement and it’s impossible to tell how many more shots he will get at his sixth ring. The star quarterback threw for a Super Bowl-record 505 yards in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and if Butler had been on the field, then perhaps New England would have been able to get the stop it so desperately needed.
Gronkowski, on the other hand, was unable to play in the Pats’ Super Bowl LI win over the Atlanta Falcons, and the star tight end reportedly was miserable during the 2018 season. Couple that with the gluttony of injuries the 28-year-old has suffered in his career and his confliction regarding his football future, and it’s obvious why Gronkowski would be upset with the costly and inexplicable decision.
All this will be rendered moot if Brady and Gronkowski return, but it sheds even more light on the issues surrounding the aging dynasty.