NFL Notebook: Gronk ready to go; Falcons sign Ridley

By The Sports Xchange
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski arrives on the field to play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski arrives on the field to play the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said that his limited offseason work has done wonders for his mental and physical health.

Gronk reportedly was considering retirement and other options after the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Philadelphia Eagles in February.


"I am refreshed," the 29-year-old Gronkowski told former Patriot and current NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest, via NBC Sports Boston.

"You know after the season, long seasons, how your body can feel and everything. I just wanted to see where I was at, and see how I can get my body feeling, see if I can handle it, endure it again, and I feel like I'm super ready, man."

The next step is training camp on July 27, and Gronkowski insists he'll be ready to go as he prepares for another season.


"I'm super excited about the upcoming season," he said. "It's going to be fun. We've got another year, another training camp. Always a grind. Gotta get yourself through that. Just excited for the season, man."

--Wide receiver Calvin Ridley agreed to terms on a rookie contract with the Atlanta Falcons, according to his agents, SportsTrust Advisors.

The deal is for four years with a team option on a fifth for Ridley, who was selected by the Falcons with the 26th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Atlanta has yet to announce the deal.

According to Spotrac, Ridley is estimated to receive a total of $10.9 million over four years and count for $1.9 million against the salary cap in 2018. Ridley had 63 receptions for 967 yards and five touchdowns last season with Alabama. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder finished his career with the Crimson Tide with 224 catches for 2,781 yards and 19 scores.

"We see him as a versatile receiver that can play inside and outside," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of the 23-year-old Ridley, per 247Sports. "He's fast, but he's highly agile and has the ability to stop and start well. He's got 19 touchdowns in his career. Again, he's a play-making type of guy. He's an explosive guy for us, and that's an important part. He's a guy that can beat man-to-man, and he has that type of quickness. Only a few guys have the speed that play outside and can change direction to play inside."


--New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman's appeal of his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy was denied, the league announced Tuesday.

Edelman's June 25 appeal was focused on the league's lack of recognition on what drug caused the positive test, and, according to ESPN, there was also a mishandling of the documentation and delivery of Edelman's test results.

The 32-year-old Edelman will miss the Patriots' season opener against the Houston Texans (Sept. 9), road games vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars (Sept. 16) and Detroit Lions (Sept. 23), as well as a home tilt against the Miami Dolphins (Sept. 30).

Edelman missed the 2017 season after suffering a torn ACL in an exhibition contest in August. Edelman has been a favorite target of quarterback Tom Brady when healthy over the last several seasons. He caught 98 passes for a career-high 1,106 yards in 2016.

--Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis issued some strong words for both star running back Le'Veon Bell and the Pittsburgh Steelers as the two sides attempt to work out a long-term deal.


"Neither one of you are as good by yourself as you are together," Bettis said, via

Bell is set to earn $14.5 million under the franchise tag. He has until the July 16 deadline to finalize a long-term contract. The 26-year-old Bell, who has been hit with the franchise tag for the second year in a row, missed the majority of the Steelers' offseason last year. He said he is hoping to avoid a repeat of that scenario this summer.

"Le'Veon, you're not going to be as good going somewhere else because they're not going to have the offensive line, they're not going to have the quarterback, the receivers that they have in Pittsburgh," Bettis said. "You have a full complement around you, that allows you to be as great as you want to be."

--Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and offensive guard Ben Garland were admittedly proud after recently returning from a USO Tour to Iraq and Kuwait.

Quinn and Garland joined center Alex Mack, kicker Matt Bryant and other team personnel in visiting United States service members at seven military bases over a three-day span.


"After seeing all of this and seeing all of the soldiers, it's the ultimate sacrifice," the 47-year-old Quinn said, per the team's website. "Everything that they do exemplifies team at the highest level, and there is no price that they won't (pay) to ensure our freedom. And, as an American, that means a (heck) of a lot."

Quinn, who won the NFL's Salute to Service Award in 2016, is often quick to express his appreciation to the military. In fact, Quinn is on record as saying that he would be in the military if he wasn't a coach.

--Former two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jerod Mayo is reaching out to Patriots Nation in a bid to locate his missing dog.

Mayo, who played with the New England Patriots from 2008-2015, is looking to find Knox, an English Bulldog who vanished on Thursday.

Wrentham (Mass.) police said a trainer was walking both Knox and another dog when Mayo's pooch disappeared. The trainer said she lost track of the 3-year-old Knox when she was attending to the other dog and later called police.

Knox's electronic collar was found on a nearby trail, with police saying there were no signs that it had been forcibly removed.


--Former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril applauded Kam Chancellor's decision to walk away from the game with respect to his neck injury.

"He's making the right decision," the 32-year-old Avril said of his former teammate on SiriusXM Blitz. "No one wants to leave the game on someone else's terms, I guess, in a sense.

"But at the same time, your health is way more important than any of this stuff. What good does it do for you to play this game for a long time, make a lot of money, but then at the end of it, you can't enjoy it? So for him, I think that's the approach he's taking right now and I can appreciate that, where he's at with that."

Chancellor took to Twitter on Sunday to announce that it's "time for the next chapter" of his life after test results on his injured neck showed no improvement. Although Chancellor never used the word "retirement" in his long social media post, all signs point to the four-time Pro Bowl safety never playing another down for the Seahawks.

--Linebacker Christian Kirksey said a different vibe exists with the Cleveland Browns this year.


Perhaps that's why Kirskey boldly posted on social media last month that the Browns would make the playoffs this season. For the record, Cleveland hasn't made the playoffs since 2002 and owns a 1-31 mark over the last two years -- including a 0-16 season in 2017.

"Being one of the longest tenured players on the team, I've seen the teams come through Cleveland," the 25-year-old Kirksey told NFL Network on Tuesday. "I'm going on to my second head coach, my third general manager, my third defensive coordinator, so I've seen players and front office people come in and out the building, and this is just a different feel."

Kirksey declared that optimism exists based on the leadership and competitiveness of quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The 28-year-old guided Buffalo to the postseason for the first time since 1999 after completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 2,799 yards and 14 touchdowns with four interceptions in 2017.

--Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul took to Instagram to issue his own public service announcement on how a Fourth of July celebration can go wrong.


Pierre-Paul lost his right index finger and badly damaged the rest of his right hand in a fireworks mishap exactly three years ago. The 29-year-old posted a few extremely graphic pictures of what his hand looked like in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

"It's been (three years) since my accident and I can truly say I'm very blessed and fortunate to be where I am in life," Pierre-Paul wrote. "Looking at these pictures seems unreal and crazy. How your life can change in the blink of an eye.

"One of the greatest American traditions in celebrating 4th of July is with fireworks. Unfortunately, tomorrow someone will be injured playing with fireworks. We are celebrating the birthday of our great nation. I'm glad to still be alive to show you the outcome of what happened to me. Please don't feel sorry for me, trust me your boy fine even with missing fingers lol. Be safe out there otherwise, this can be you."

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