BOSTON (CBS) — Boston Herald Patriots beat writer Jeff Howe doesn’t really know what’s going on with Rob Gronkowski’s situation. But neither does anybody else.
It’s that mystery, Howe said Tuesday on Toucher & Rich, which opens up the entire situation to speculation about what is really going on behind closed doors. Between the offseason tweet about a pay cut and the surprising absence from the team’s season-opening game, a lot of folks are wondering if there’s something more to the story than a simple hamstring tweak.
Howe said it would be difficult to dismiss such speculation.
“I think everything’s fair, because there’s very little transparency from [the team]. I mean, how often do you see a joint statement from a team like the Patriots when a guy gets injured like they did last year with Gronk and that knee injury? The transparency is just not there with this player, and I don’t know if that’s because it’s from the Gronkowski side of it or the Patriots side of it or a combination of both, but he’s been a difficult player to gain information on, really since he came back a few years ago,” Howe said. “The team wanted him back as early as Week 2 or Week 3 in the 2013 season. Gronk didn’t end up coming back until [Week 7]. He wanted to take it slower than the team. Maybe the team was trying to rush him and maybe he was trying to take it slower. But they haven’t always been on the same page with this stuff, and I don’t know how honest anyone is being about what he wants in terms of a contract.
“You know, he signed the deal. He’s got four years left. It’s really difficult if not almost unprecedented for a team to rip up a contract with four years left on the term and give a guy a huge raise like that. It’s even more difficult to ask a team to do it when you miss the first game of the season,” Howe continued. “So, honestly, you guys know me, I’m not one who’s just going to speculate or throw stuff against the wall irresponsibly, but I can’t sit here and tell you it’s unfair to do so with this storyline, because the transparency and the history between the two sides suggest there’s a lot that could be on the table.”
Howe said that the team will no doubt be hurt by any Gronkowski absence on the field, but considering the player hasn’t seemingly shifted from his daily routine at the stadium, he doesn’t stand to create any problems off the field.
“The guy’s still down there working pretty hard. You can see him coming in and out of the weight room, you can see him on the practice field. They just voted him a captain,” Howe said. “So I don’t see this going completely off the rails or anything like that.”
Of course, a lot of this speculation could go away if Gronkowski suits up against the Dolphins this upcoming Sunday at Gillette. ESPN’s Adam Schefter wondered on SportsCenter if perhaps Gronkowski might not be available in Week 2 … or Week 3.
Considering the lack of solid information on Gronkowski, Howe said it’s impossible to forecast.
“Look, I’ll be honest, I don’t know. I don’t want to guess right now. Everything I’ve been told the last couple of weeks is that the hamstring was no big deal. But he obviously didn’t play. I got a story wrong last week on his availability. So I don’t know,” Howe said. “I don’t want to speculate, I don’t want to guess. I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to get the best information possible for the last handful of days, and so far there’s been nothing concrete…. I think everybody was pretty shocked [by Gronkowski’s Week 1 absence], just because, again, everything I had heard was that his hamstring wasn’t a big deal.”
Listen to the full interview below: