New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick delivered a tour de force in succinctness Tuesday at the NFL’s annual coaches breakfast, offering little as he was peppered with questions about his team’s various arrivals, departures and re-signees.
The most notable of these players was tight end Rob Gronkowski, who announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday. Belichick showered Gronkowski with praise in a statement released through the team and declined to expand on that in his morning meeting with reporters at the Arizona Biltmore.
“I already made my comments on Rob,” Belichick said. “Honestly, I don’t have anything to add.”
He later added: “I think my comments on Rob speak for themselves. He?s pretty special in every category.?
Asked multiple times about the possibility of Gronkowski returning midseason, as his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has hinted at, Belichick replied that he’s “not dealing in hypothetical questions.”
Belichick followed that same general template when asked about defensive end Michael Bennett (trade acquisition); defensive tackle Mike Pennel, tight end Matt LaCosse, running back Brandon Bolden, safety Terrence Brooks and wide receivers Maurice Harris and Bruce Ellington (free agent additions); wideout Phillip Dorsett and edge rusher John Simon (re-signed); kicker Stephen Gostkowski (currently a free agent); a few of the Patriots’ free agent departures; and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, receiver Braxton Berrios and tight end Ryan Izzo, rising NFL sophomores who all spent last season on injured reserve.
On Bennett: “I think he’ll help our team. … We’ll see. We’ll get out there at practice, put everyone out there and see how it goes. … We’ll see. He hasn’t been in our system before, so we’ll see how it goes. … Mike’s a good football player. I think he has a good understanding of football, so I think he’ll help us.”
On LaCosse: “We wanted to have him on our team, so we’ll see how it goes. … We think he’d be competitive.”
On Pennel: “I think he’ll be competitive.”
On Gostkowski: “He’s not under contract right now. (Would you like him back?) He’s not back until the person’s under contract, so we’ll see what happens.”
On Simon: “He did a good job for us. … (His playing time) varied from game to game. But John works hard. He’s a tough kid. We’ll see how it goes.
On Bolden and Brooks, who project as core special teamers: “I think both of those players will help our team, so we’ll see what their roles are.”
On Dorsett: “Everybody’s going to have an opportunity, so how those go, what happens to them, I can’t control. … Phil’s got good skill, he’s a talented player and he’s made a lot of big plays for us.”
On Harris: “(We felt like) we’d like to work with him.”
On Ellington: “He’s got plenty of plays on tape. We put players in our system and see how they do. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.”
On the Patriots’ secondary, which returns nearly every contributor from last season: “They did a great job. That group performed well.”
On offensive tackle Trent Brown, who signed with the Oakland Raiders: “I’ve talked a lot about Trent. He’s obviously a very talented player. He did a great job for us.”
On defensive end Trey Flowers, who signed with the Detroit Lions: “Trey’s a great player, and he got a great opportunity in Detroit. That’s free agency.”
On Wynn: “We haven’t done anything since the end of February. We’ll see when we get out there.”
On Izzo: “Young player. He wasn’t able to participate at times and ended up on IR. … I think he can do several things, but we’ll see. I don’t know. He’ll get an opportunity to do them this year, and we’ll evaluate him then.”
On Berrios: “We didn’t see a lot (in his first training camp). He didn’t have a lot of opportunity to participate. We’ll see what happens this year. It’s a new year, and Braxton’s worked hard. I’m sure he’ll give it his best effort. That’s all we can ask for.”