The fact that Tom Brady hasn’t specifically said that he’ll play this year (unless he has) likely isn’t a big deal. The fact that Rob Gronkowski hasn’t is more significant. In the end, however, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the Patriots expect both players to suit up and play in 2018. That doesn’t mean all is well. Gronkowski has taken his trademark individuality to the extreme this offseason, declining to declare that he’ll play and, most recently, arguably trolling coach Bill Belichick over Gronkowski’s obvious intention to treat voluntary workouts as just that. It’s possible Gronkowski simply wants more money, and that if the team wants to address a contract that will pay Gronk $8 million this year, maybe Gronk will have more enthusiasm about April, May, and June non-mandatory practices. As to Gronkowski’s pay for 2018, the $8 million he’ll make matches the $8 million per year that former Eagles third-string tight end Trey Burton will earn in Chicago this year, and it’s $2 million less than the $10 million per year that Jimmy Graham will make in Green Bay. Clearly, Gronkowski is underpaid. Apart from Gronkowski’s satisfaction or lack thereof with his pay, there’s also a belief that Gronkowski, Brady, and other Patriots continue to be salty about the inexplicable — and still unexplained — benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. A full eleven weeks later, coach Bill Belichick still hasn’t shed any light on the decision to use Butler for only one special-teams play and to keep him on the bench even after the Philly offense shredded the New England defense enough to force a change to the dime package during a 30-minute halftime.