By Danny Cox

The New England Patriots are one of the best teams in the NFL this season and they’re looking to defend their Super Bowl championship, but they’ll have to do it this week without one of their key players. When the Pats step onto the field against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, they won’t have Rob Gronkowski, but they will have two other players back on the roster.

Gronk’s suspension was upheld and will cost him a lot of money as drama hits the Patriots

Rob Gronkowski’s appeal of his one-game suspension was denied and he will have to sit out Monday’s game against the Dolphins, but he is eligible to return next week. Even with just one game being taken from his season, Gronkowski is going to lose a lot money and there is the potential for him to lose even more.

So far, Gronk will lose one game check, which comes out to be $250,000. There is a chance that he could lose another $31,000 for his per-game roster bonus, which brings his loss total to $281,250. Some may think that is already more than enough, but he stands the chance of losing much more before everything is said and done.

Gronkowski’s contract is filled with different incentives and tiers that bring him more money if he reaches them. There are three tiers that could bring him $6.75 million at the lowest, $8.75 million in the middle, and $10.75 million at its highest. He needs to meet certain criteria to advance from one to the next, but now, he’ll have one less game in which to do it.

If the tight end ends up in the second tier, this one-game suspension could ultimately end up costing him another $2 million.

Chris Hogan returns to practice as two others sit out on Wednesday

The Patriots did receive some good news on Wednesday when wide receiver Chris Hogan returned to practice, which is huge for the team. His productivity and presence on the field will truly be needed with Gronk missing against the Dolphins.

Tom Brady and cornerback Malcolm Butler did not practice on Wednesday, but nothing serious has been reported regarding either one of them as of yet.

Pats bring back linebacker due to open roster spot this week

With Rob Gronkowski’s suspension being upheld by the NFL, the Patriots have one open roster spot, which they filled by bringing back linebacker Jonathan Freeny. The veteran spent time in New England back in 2015 and 2016. It’s good that he knows the system as they need depth at the position right now.

David Harris, Marquis Flowers, Elandon Roberts, and Nicholas Grigsby are already in the linebacking corps, but it would not be surprising to see Freeny get playing time against the Dolphins. If he plays well enough, the team may find a way to keep him on the roster, even if it means getting rid of someone else.

Kyle Van Noy leads all Patriots linebackers in playing time this season, but a calf injury has had him limited the last few weeks.

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