By Danny Cox

Through five games, the New England Patriots have put together a 3-2 record. That’s not bad, but it could be better. Still, there are plenty of other problems out there other than the offense fizzling out last week or the defense hardly showing up at all. If the problems continue to pile up, it may be back and forth with .500 or just above throughout the season.

The Patriots are now down to just two quarterbacks associated with the team

It’s not like anyone doubts that Tom Brady is the starting quarterback of the Patriots and that he will stay in that position until he chooses to retire. Of course, there is always the possibility of an injury or something else showing its face, and who would step in then? Well, that would be Jimmy Garoppolo, but the organization needs to be extremely careful that they don’t jinx themselves with their latest roster move.

The team recently released quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who was a member of the practice squad. Some people may not think that’s a big deal, but in the grand scheme of things, it could become a problem.

With the release of Heinicke, the Patriots now have just two quarterbacks under contract. That’s not only two quarterbacks on the active roster, but in the entire franchise. Heinicke has taken over the No. 3 quarterback position after Jacoby Brissett was traded to the Indianapolis Colts a month ago, but that spot was just rendered nonexistent.

Brady has been sacked 16 times already this season and hit 32 times overall. If something happens to him, the Pats would be down to just Garropolo, and one doesn’t want to think what would happen if something happened to him as well.

In an attempt to get back onto the field, Gronk may miss out on a lot of incentives

Speaking of injuries, tight end Rob Gronkowski’s scratch from last week’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a surprise to many people, and the short week may have really ended up hurting his wallet. The thigh injury kept him from getting out on the field on Thursday night, but had it been a regular Sunday game, he may have been out there.

Missing that game against the Bucs has cut into the amount of playing time he’s racked up so far in 2017.

Gronkowski has played 70.4 percent of the offensive snaps for the Patriots, which has him in what is considered the third tier of incentives for his contract. Being involved in 70 percent of the team’s plays for the 2017 season would give him a $6.75 million incentive bonus. Being involved in 80 percent means an extra $8.75 million, and 90 percent would give him an extra $10.75 million.

Losing that game against the Bucs has Gronk’s back against the wall as he could end up reaching 80 percent, but it will be extremely difficult to reach the first tier of 90 percent. There are other ways for him to get there, but he will need to stay healthy and work even harder than he usually does.


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