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Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski missing Patriots offseason program is not normal

Patriots Wire logo Patriots Wire 4/16/2018 Henry McKenna
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Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Voluntary workouts are a bit of a misnomer for the New England Patriots, which is why it was strange to hear Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski will not attend the start of the team's offseason program.

Bill Belichick teased the possibility of it (without mentioning their names) during a pre-draft press conference last week. Belichick made sure to state he would only answer questions about the draft, but he threw in some important non-draft information.

"We have the voluntary offseason program that starts on Monday," Belichick said. "It will be heavily attended, but I know there are a couple players that I've talked to that have other commitments, but that's the way it always is, too. So, not really anything new there."

At the time, the comments didn't seem like much. Brady was supposed to just miss the first day due to an obligation with his charity, Best Buddies. But then reports came out that Gronk was going to miss some of the program while negotiating his contract. On Monday, news surfaced that Brady wouldn't just be missing the first day.

Brady missed parts of the offseason program from 2008-10. Attendance at offseason programs is hard to monitor, as the media isn't on-site to take roll call. For example, the Patriots' program starts Monday, but New England media so far has no availability scheduled this beyond an interview with Matthew Slater on Tuesday.

If this is Brady's first absence in eight years, that would be very significant. This is not normal.

Combine that with Gronkowski's absence. Combine that with the reports that Belichick's coaching methods are not jibing well with Brady or Gronk. The star tight end is considering retirement, but will play for more money, according to The Athletic. Brady wants to spend time with his family and Alex Guerrero more than he does with his team, according to ESPN.

The idea that Brady might be substituting the team's time with Guerrero, in particular, might not sit well with Belichick. After all, the Patriots coach banned Guerrero from working on players at Gillette Stadium, where Guerrero once had an office, according to The Boston Globe. The heavy application of the TB12 method among Patriots players has created friction between Belichick, Brady and Gronkowski, who became a loyal user of Brady and Guerrero's training and dieting techniques. Belichick went so far as to reportedly chastise Gronk over the TB12 method in front of the whole team.

Patriots fans will brush off the idea that there is no significance to Brady and Gronkowski missing these actives. "They're voluntary," fans will argue. "We're talking about practice," they'll say.

But ask yourself: Does this feel like a normal offseason? And wouldn't the presence of Brady and Gronk help calm the noise that there's dysfunction in Foxborough?

Yet for some reason, the two best players in the franchise will not report. Something is not right.

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