(WEEI) 1. Rob Gronkowski hadn't even been retired an hour and there were already people speculating he could return to the Patriots during the 2019 season. Those thoughts haven't gone away and resurfaced this week when Gronkowski was a guest on the Rich Eisen Show. "There's definitely going to be times when you miss it and everything," he said. "I would always say that it's still the offseason right now. I mean I can't really say how I'm going to feel about it when the games start rolling around and everything. You know, I just felt like it was time. I feel really good right now and it was just definitely something I thought it was the right time and the right thing to do." While all indications are Gronkowski will not change his mind and will remain retired, it's important to note a few things. No. 1, he's noticeably thinner and even admitted in the same appearance he's dropped close to 15 pounds since the Super Bowl. He's nowhere close to being in playing shape and would likely take months to get back to what it would take. And No. 2, a comeback late in the year just doesn't seem like something Bill Belichick would go for. Belichick is all about the team and treating everyone equally, so come November he's going to welcome someone who has been relaxing and away from the game the last several months? The Gronkowski comeback talk will likely pick up even more during the season, especially if the Patriots offense struggles, but it seems like a long-shot at best.
2. Julian Edelman's dad Frank was the star of the Patriots wide receiver's documentary "100%: Julian Edelman," which aired on Showtime last week. The thing that stood out most was even with how close the two are, they did not talk for over 80 days when word came out that Edelman was being suspended for the first four games because of PEDs. While in the piece the wide out never admitted to using them, he never went all-in on being innocent like last summer when he hired a legal team to fight the way the NFL handled the matter.
3. While the quote making the rounds the most from Kyle Van Noy's interview with NFL Media recently was about getting Belichick back for the paintball incident where he apparently hit him in the face, one that deserves more attention is how complimentary he was about new inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo. "He's amazing. He's got a bright future, he's really smart," Van Noy said. "He's also played the game, so he has that feel for it. I expect him to have a bright future because he's really, really good at what he does. He's a good teacher already."
4. The departure of Jack Easterby has been a major talking point this offseason and how his departure will be felt, but it really is impossible to know right now. We will find out over the course of the season as things come up. How does the team react to the adversity it certainly will face at some point? If Josh Gordon does get reinstated and return, how do things go there? His position was so unique that it's nearly impossible to tell how his absence will impact the team right now.
5. One of the more underrated competitions during training camp will be who will take on the role of both kick returner and punt returner. With Cordarrelle Patterson gone, there's an opening to return kicks and then ideally the team likely would like to have someone to go alongside Edelman with punts because of the injury risk. This could be the ticket to firming a spot on the roster for a player who is on the bubble.
6. Robert Kraft has an even better shot of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year when the 2020 class reportedly will have five modern-era candidates like usual, plus three contributors (owners, general managers, scouts), two coaches, and 10 senior candidates. This plan has yet to be finalized, but seems likely to pass in the coming weeks and it's hard to imagine the Patriots owner not getting in as part of the three contributors.
7. Training camp officially kicks off two weeks from Thursday with veterans reporting two weeks from Wednesday. There won't be as many practices open to the public at Gillette Stadium because of the team holding joint practices at Detroit and at Tennessee, but there's been some chatter of the team having a few more open practices on either end so local fans can see the team. The official schedule is not out yet, and the team generally doesn't release practice days too far in advance.