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FOXBOROUGH Margus Hunt Jersey , Mass. (AP) — For the second straight year, the Patriots have tried to show Rob Gronkowski how much he’s valued.
The All-Pro tight end says he’s feeling the love and is looking forward to showing them his appreciation on the field.
Last week the Patriots added $4.3 million in incentives to Gronkowski’s contract over the next two seasons. The deal includes $1 million in per game bonuses and $3.3 million in incentives for catches, playing time and touchdowns.
It is the second consecutive season the team has added sweeteners to the 29-year-old’s contract. Last season the incentives New England gave him pushed his compensation to more than $10 million.
With this latest restructured deal he has the potential to make $12.3 million this season and $13.3 million next year. It could again place him among the league’s highest-paid tight ends as he prepares to open his ninth NFL season Sunday against Houston.
“It’s definitely a relief to have that all out of the way,” Gronkowski said Tuesday. “That was last week. That’s in the past, which is good. I’m just gonna put my main focus on the Houston Texans.”
This new pact comes after Gronk made a silent statement by skipping the voluntary portion of offseason workouts.
When he returned for the mandatory minicamp he wasn’t bashful in saying he’d like to see his contract redone again on the heels of other NFL players getting offseason raises.
Gronk insisted that there was never any acrimony between himself and the Patriots this summer over his contract.
“It didn’t weigh on me at all,” he said. “I mean, everything is always ‘in the works.’ Nothing is just gonna happen in a day when it’s something like that. It’s in the past. … It’s go-time now.”
Gronkowski put himself in position to renegotiate after leading the team in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,084) and receiving touchdowns (eight) last season.
Though he never contemplated holding out, Gronkowski said he isn’t envious of some of the heftier contracts that some of his NFL peers have gotten recently.
“I’m super-satisfied with my situation,” he said. “If I wasn’t, then I would try to pull a move like they (did). It just works out. You get rewarded for holding out. But I’m not frustrated at all. … I’m ready to play.”
He expected to again be one of 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady’s top targets in the passing game. His importance to the offense will only be amplified with receiver Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancers.
Brady is also adjusting to some new receivers, following the trade of Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams and Danny Amendola signing a free agent deal with Miami.
With Edelman out, Chris Hogan — entering his third season in New England — is the most-tenured receiver Brady will have at the start of the season.
Special teams captain Matt Slater is listed as a receiver. But he has caught just one pass in 10 seasons with the Patriots.
Still, Gronk said he doesn’t feel any extra pressure to produce more than he normally does.
“There’s always pressure around this building, no matter what the situation is,” he said. “When you lose a guy Calvin de Haan Jersey Kids , or for example when they lose me out there on the field, the goal is just to keep on maintaining what you’re doing.
“No matter who is in there, who’s not, I just gotta keep focusing on my job and keep helping the team the best way I can.”
NOTES: Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey made headlines last week when he told “ESPN The Magazine” that “I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is.” Asked if he had any reaction, Gronkowski said he’d defer responding for now. “We got the Houston Texans this week,” he said. “That will just be another time and place to talk about (that). But, as of right now, I’m just focused on the Texans.” New England visits Jacksonville on Sept. 16.
Shortly after the San Jose Sharks were denied by the iron for the fourth time of the night, Marc-Andre Fleury rubbed the goal post to thank it for his good fortune.
There’s something magical about the ride the expansion Vegas Golden Knights have been on all season and now it’s going all the way to the Western Conference Final.
Fleury made 28 saves in his fourth shutout of the playoffs and the Golden Knights have made it to the NHL’s final four in their inaugural season after beating the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in Game 6 of their second-round series Sunday.
”It was maybe a little bit of a shock, but I’m proud of our team, our organization, the way they did things here,” Fleury said. ”I’m proud to be where we are right now.”
Fleury, who was part of three Stanley Cup-winning teams in Pittsburgh, is a main reason for the success. He allowed just three goals in a first-round sweep against Los Angeles, posted shutouts in Games 1 and 6 against the Sharks and was also spectacular in an overtime win in Game 3.
He had plenty of help from a crew of castoffs who have come together in Vegas to form a team that has a legitimate shot at a championship. Vegas next will play either Winnipeg or Nashville in the Western Conference Final. The Jets lead that series 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Monday night.
”We deserve to be here,” coach Gerard Gallant said. ”We’re a good team Cheap Customized Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys , we play hard and we played well all season long. The two teams we played were very good hockey teams and we were very evenly matched with those teams.”
Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring, Nate Schmidt added an insurance goal that was only detectable by replay and Cody Eakin sealed it with an empty-netter to help Vegas become just the third team in NHL history to win multiple series in its first season.
The Toronto Arenas won the Stanley Cup in the first postseason in league history in 1918 and St. Louis won two rounds to win the all-expansion West Division in 1968.
The Sharks had numerous opportunities all night but were thwarted by a couple of shots that hit the iron, some acrobatic saves from Fleury and other chances that trickled just wide. This marked the fourth straight postseason for the Sharks that ended with a loss on home ice.
”It’s very disappointing, you get this far and lose, it’s disappointing,” Sharks forward Logan Couture said. ””It’s extra disappointing when you don’t play the way that you know that you’re capable of. … That’s something that’s very difficult to take.”
The Golden Knights took control of this game with some good fortune in the second period. It started when usually reliable Marc-Edouard Vlasic turned the puck over in his own zone. Reilly Smith took control near the blue line and found Marchessault alone in front for a goal that trickled between Martin Jones‘ pads.
The Golden Knights then added to the lead after an icing by Brent Burns led to an offensive zone faceoff. David Perron beat Tierney on the draw and Schmidt took a shot that appeared to deflect off the post and out.
Play went on for 25 more seconds before the buzzer rang, with the situation room in Toronto calling for a video review. That quickly showed that the puck bounced off the post, off a piece equipment inside the net and out.
Vegas then had a delayed celebration for the goal that made it 2-0.
”I had no idea,” Schmidt said. ”I’d never seen something like that happen where they blew the play dead, but when I was skating back to the bench and all the guys were yelling, `It’s in.”’
That was the type of bounce the Sharks didn’t get early in the game when they hit the post or crossbar three times in the opening period and then again in the third when they tried to cut into Vegas’ lead.
They also had several other chances that either Fleury turned aside with acrobatic saves, trickled just wide or they were unable to get a clean shot, like a rebound Couture whiffed on from the slot in the first period with an open net.
”It’s a fine line,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”I think we had a couple of those that didn’t go in. That’s hockey. But Vegas deserves to be moving on. They played great. They finished the chances when they needed to and got saves when they needed to.”
NOTES: Jones made 30 saves. … Vegas F William Carrier was scratched with a lower-body injury and replaced by Ryan Reaves, who played his first game this postseason.
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