New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft went on ESPN Boston Radio on Friday afternoon and spoke at length on the Patriots' offseason, the recent video that shows tight end Rob Gronkowski dancing at the post-Super Bowl party and about Wes Welker's contract.
Gronkowski was seen in video and photos dancing at a Super Bowl after party, which raised some questions about the seriousness of his injured ankle and his work ethic with the team considering he had just lost the Super Bowl. However, Kraft had nothing but good things to say about his record-setting tight end.
"I actually have only heard about it, I haven't seen the video," Kraft said of Gronkowski, who has been put in the spotlight in recent days as video and photos surfaced of him dancing at the team's party after losing Super Bowl XLVI. "I was long gone from the party when that took place.
"The one thing I do know is the guy absolutely is 100 percent a passionate, passionate competitor when it comes to football. He loves football. He wants to win. He wants to get better. He doesn't like losing. ... He's an ultimate competitor, we're excited he's on our football team.
"The team did accomplish a lot this year, and unfortunately we fell just a little bit short of the ultimate goal. I do think he and the other players probably have different ways of both celebrating what we were able to achieve and then dealing with the disappointment of that night. I think it's hard to personalize how any individual would deal with that and then project it on someone else."
The biggest free agent that could leave the Patriots is by far their most talented wide receiver, Wes Welker, who was second in the league behind Calvin Johnson in the regular season with 1,569 yards. When asked if the team would be able to bring back Welker, Kraft simply said, "At a high level, Wes is a really special person, both as a guy off the field as well as the football player. Hopefully something will work out there."
One estimate has the Patriots at $20 million under the cap and Kraft said that he feels the team is in good shape to do what they need to do to stay competitive. He said that over the last 18 seasons in which there has been a salary cap, the Patriots have attempted to keep themselves in a position to do what they need to do to stay competitive long term and tried to avoid making short-term deals. He said ,"It's a fine line to walk. We spend a lot of time managing that."
He also said that Bill Belichick and the rest of the Patriots coaches have been working hard since July and got to work on the 2012 season the moment they got back from Indianapolis. Even though they had Friday off, they get right back to work on Monday.
"The coaches met at the end of last week once we got back from Indy, evaluated our roster and talked about where we thought everybody was," Kraft said. "That will now lead into a process that will take us to free agency. The coaches are deservedly taking today off. They've pretty much worked non-stop since July. They're off today. They'll be back in at the beginning of the week and get cooking on free agency."
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