FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts — Rob Gronkowski was asked if he dances his way to the bank with a $4 million New England Patriots' check in his pocket.
"I guess so," the smiling tight end said Tuesday, talking about his reworked contract that reportedly gives him $4 million of the $10 million bonus he had coming after the 2015 season. According to reports, the paying of that bonus would guarantee the rest of his deal through 2019.
One of the NFL's most dynamic stars expressed his gratitude toward the Patriots' front office and coach Bill Belichick.
"It's a great feeling," he said. "It's time to put that behind you and just play football now."
Asked what the organization has meant to him, he said, "It's just an honor to be part of it. Ever since I was drafted it's an unbelievable feeling just coming here and coming out to practice every single day and putting that jersey on.
"When I step out on the field and come out here to practice, I come out here to practice with a purpose every time and that's to get better," he said.
Gronkowski caught 82 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
"We've been out of it for a couple months, so it's great to come out here and compete - especially with the hitting aspect now.
"You gotta come out to practice and you gotta actually practice harder than (you do in games). You gotta push your body to another limit, get yourself prepared for games. You don't want to just go out here and go through the motions. You want to push yourself so when game time comes, you're ready."
Willie McGinest, who won three titles with the Patriots, and the late Houston Antwine will be inducted into the club's Hall of Fame Wednesday night, prior to a night practice. "Nobody would mess with Willie. Nobody," said Belichick. "I'd put him up there as the guy you just don't want to cross him. If it got to that point, it's better to back off than get into it with him. He was very well- respected, as he should be. He was great athlete, great player, great teammate, versatile guy, (on) championship teams. He had a great career." ... Wide receiver Brian Tyms was carted off the field with what appeared to be a left arm or shoulder injury. ... Slot receiver Julian Edelman stretched but then left the field for unknown reasons. ... Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler intercepted a Tom Brady pass - No. 12's first pick of the camp. ... The Patriots signed four players, including former Navy fullback Eric Kettani, who has been with the team before.