Wager On Total Games Played By Rob Gronkowski In 2017

rob-gronkowski

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 3:56 PM GMT

Arguably the best receiving tight end in NFL history is the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski. However, Gronk just can’t stay healthy and New England has proven it can win without him. You can bet how many total games Gronk will play in the 2017 season.

First off, will Rob Gronkowski be a member of the Patriots next season? Bill Belichick has proven in the past he is willing to trade guys one year too soon rather than one year too late – i.e. deal them while their value is high before an inevitable decline. Last offseason, Belichick sent defensive end Chandler Jones, coming off his best season, to Arizona because Jones was going to get too expensive following the 2016 season. During the 2016 campaign, the Pats sent top linebacker Jamie Collins to Cleveland for the same reason.

Belichick also traded away top receiver Deion Branch in 2006 when Branch was just 27. Belichick dealt excellent defensive lineman Richard Seymour in 2009 to Oakland at age 29 and said goodbye to the likes of Randy Moss and Logan Mankins without a capable replacement for either. So other than Tom Brady, no one on the Patriots is safe – and even Brady's day will be coming. He won't ever be traded, but pushed aside at some point.

Gronkowski is a matchup nightmare for defenses. No one questions his talent. In 88 career regular-season games, Gronk has 405 catches for 6,095 yards and 68 touchdowns. He became the fastest tight end in NFL history to 60 TD catches and the first with five seasons of at least 10 TD grabs. Gronkowski has been the best red-zone weapon in football on a per-play basis this decade.

This past season, Gronk got a late start off a hamstring injury suffered in training camp and played just eight games before undergoing season-ending back surgery. He had 25 catches for 540 yards and three TDs. The Patriots obviously won the Super Bowl without him. Fellow tight end Martellus Bennett is a free agent, though, and the Pats likely can't afford to bring him back.

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The 27-year-old Gronkowski has now had nine reported surgeries since his final year at the University of Arizona in 2009: on his back (three times for a herniated disc), forearm (four), knee (one) and ankle (one). Gronkowski herniated his L5-S1 disc while in college in 2009, his L4-5 disc in 2012, and the latest discectomy was a reherniation of the L5-S1 disc. If this guy wants to walk when he's 40, how much more can he take?

On BetOnline NFL odds, Gronk is given an ‘over/under' of 10.5 games played in 2017 – regardless of team. I do think the Pats keep him as Gronk's salary-cap hit is a reasonable $6.75 million. That jumps to $11 million in 2018 so Gronkowski might not be a Patriot then. He played all 16 regular-season games his first two seasons but not since, with the following game totals: 11 (2012), 7 (2013), 15 (2014 – he could have played all 16 but sat out a meaningless Week 17 matchup), 15 (2015) and then 8 last year.

The ‘over' is a -150 on NFL picks for this prop and the ‘under' at +120. I would lean ‘over' for now, but one more back injury and Gronk's career could well be over. I do expect the Patriots to select a tight end relatively early in the 2017 as Gronk's possible 2018 replacement.