The New England Patriots had a rollercoaster end to their season — and we’re not talking about their Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. Things got started in early January with ESPN’s article by Seth Wickersham detailing a triangle of differences between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft.
Then, on Super Bowl Sunday, there was a rumor that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would be retiring after the Super Bowl. Both would later say that wasn’t the case. During the game, eyebrows were raised after it became clear that starting cornerback Malcolm Butler had been benched in favor of Eric Rowe.
But after their 41-33 loss in the Super Bowl, things have only continued to get strange for the Patriots this offseason. And it’s something we’re not used to.
Gronk’s future is up in the air, and his house was robbed.
At the conclusion of the Super Bowl, Rob Gronkowski was asked whether he’d be back next season.
Rob Gronkowski said he was going to reflect on his future when asked if he’s considering retiring.— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) February 5, 2018
He wouldn’t commit to returning in 2018. pic.twitter.com/ApdZKKMqyM
Gronkowski was caught off guard by the question. “I don’t know how you heard that, but I mean I’m definitely going to look at my future for sure,” he said. “I’m going to sit down the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at.”
Gronkowski’s dealt with a lot of injuries over the course of his career — the most recent being a concussion he suffered in the AFC Championship against the Jaguars. Despite this, he still had nine receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the game on 15 targets.
It was weird to see Gronkowski in such a mood, especially when he’s got a loud personality and is known for being lighthearted and fun. After all, he’s the guy who made a video to tell people not to eat Tide Pods and is reportedly considering an acting career.
“There were items stolen. We’re not going to release the nature of the items stolen. Obviously the people who committed the theft know what was stolen. It’s an investigative advantage for us to know that as well and not share it with the public, so I won’t have any further comment on that.”
Police released the 911 call as well after finding out what had happened to his home:
“This is Rob Gronkowski calling, and while I was gone my whole house got robbed, while on the Super Bowl trip. And I just got back.”
The items that were taken haven’t been confirmed, but police spent Monday night at his home gathering evidence:
“It’s a tough combination to have suffered this unfortunate loss, and then to get home and be a victim of this kind of crime which really has a profound effect on everybody who is a victim of this crime when your personal space is breached like that,” Baker told reporters.
Having his home burglarized and considering his playing future immediately following a Super Bowl loss has to be quite a difficult situation for Gronkowski to be in.
We’re still trying to figure out what happened with Malcolm Butler.
After Malcolm Butler got benched, it became an immediate chase to find out what exactly happened. He went from playing 98 percent of defensive snaps in the regular season to seeing the field just once — and on special teams — in the biggest game of the season.
Butler was heated immediately after the game — “They gave up on me. Fuck. It is what it is,” Butler told ESPN afterward — but would later deliver tamer comments. Then, on Tuesday, he released a letter thanking the Patriots:
Tom Brady on Malcolm Butler’s statement on Instagram pic.twitter.com/acNVX33mAf— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 6, 2018
Along with Brady, the post has been liked by Phillip Dorsett, Elandon Roberts, Harvey Langi, Cody Hollister, Vincent Valentine, Martellus Bennett, Marcus Cannon, Jacoby Brissett, Justin Coleman, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Browner, Jamie Collins and Rob Ninkovich— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) February 6, 2018
Now, Butler’s future in New England is up in the air, as he’ll be a free agent this offseason. When he was asked about it, Butler said via ESPN’s Mike Reiss, “I ain’t Miss Cleo, so I can’t tell the future.”
But we also still don’t know why the benching on Super Bowl Sunday happened. It’s a long offseason, and odds are we’ll probably find out at some point.
Josh McDaniels was gone, and then he wasn’t.
The Patriots’ offensive coordinator seemed to be as good as gone at the end of the season, just as defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was. Patricia did leave to become the head coach of the Lions, and the Colts announced Patricia as their next head coach Tuesday morning.
However, things changed on Tuesday evening after McDaniels called the Colts to tell them he was staying with the Patriots. “We were disappointed, unquestionably we were disappointed and surprised,” Colts GM Chris Ballard said at his press conference on Wednesday. “We had agreed to contract terms, we had an agreement in place. We followed all the rules, did everything right. two interviews, both of them went very well.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter wrote Wednesday morning that Robert Kraft made a late push, which included “sweetening” his deal, but there was more than that:
In the past 48 hours, Patriots owner Robert Kraft began talking with McDaniels and ultimately wound up sweetening his contract, helping to entice McDaniels, who had yet to sign a contract with the Colts, to remain in New England, a source said.
But this wasn’t a decision about money. The truth is, McDaniels, 41, has been vacillating on this decision throughout the interview process, ever since meeting with the Colts on wild-card weekend. It is the reason a second meeting with Colts officials and team owner Jim Irsay was held. McDaniels was trying to get comfortable with the idea of taking his family out of New England and moving to Indianapolis, sources said.
There’s also the possibility that Kraft convinced McDaniels that he could take over once Bill Belichick calls it quits. Belichick has just one year left on his contract.
It might have also been about revenge:
Text from one league source: “That’s Kraft putting it to the Colts again. He will forever try and (expletive) that place ever since deflate gate.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 7, 2018
At the end of his press conference, Ballard declared, “The rivalry is back on.”
All of this seems very un-Patriot like.
To quickly recap everything the Patriots have gone through:
- They’re plagued by rumors of infighting between Brady, Kraft, and Belichick over a variety of things, including Jimmy Garoppolo and who deserves the most credit for the dynasty.
- Their best offensive weapon, whose personal brand is partying, is considering retirement and to become an actor.
- Tom Brady was releasing episodes of a documentary about himself called Tom vs. Time on Facebook before the Super Bowl, when the Patriots are usually more quiet and reserved in what goes on behind the scenes.
- The mysterious benching of Malcolm Butler was a distraction during their biggest game.
- The Josh McDaniels situation, which includes Belichick and Kraft talking him out of going to the Colts.
All of these things seem opposite of The Patriot Way, which preaches accountability and placing an emphasis on doing your job. The Patriots win and keep distractions to a minimum.
None of this means that their dynasty is over, but this isn’t typically how they have operated in the Brady-Belichick era.
And for the time being, nothing appears like it will be settling any time soon.