The New England Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have agreed to a restructured contract that could make him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL, according to reports.
Gronkowski is set to make $5.25 million this season, but could make up to $10.75 million, passing Seattle’s Jimmy Graham, if he hits certain goals.
However, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, some of the goals are quite lofty. Schefter broke down the tiers of a contract raise on his Facebook page.
“1st tier, which gets him to $10.75M either 90 percent play time or 80 catches or 1200 receiving yards or All Pro — and he’s made all pro four times.
”2nd tier to $8.75M: he has to get 80 percent play time or 70 catches or 1000 receiving yards or 12 Tds.
”3rd tier takes him to $6.75M is 70 percent playtime, 60 receptions, 800 receiving yards or 10 TDs.”
The lower tiers shouldn’t be much of a problem for Gronkowski, but if he wants to become the highest-paid tight end, he’s going to need to overcome his biggest weakness – health. Gronkowski has played all 16 games just twice in his seven-year career and 15 games or more four total. Gronkowski missed the last eight games of the regular season and all of the playoffs with a back injury in 2016.
If healthy, Gronkowski should be able to play 90% of snaps and make All-Pro, which would get him into the first tier. The counting stats may be tough, however. Gronkowski has only totaled 8o or more catches – 90 in 2011 and 82 in 2014. He’s only topped 1,200 yards once with 1,327 yards in 2011. It’s worth noting that he played 16 games in 2011 and 15 in 2015.
Gronkowski is Tom Brady’s favorite weapon, but with the Patriots’ stacked offense, including new wide receiver addition Brandin Cooks, Gronkowski could potentially see fewer targets.
He shouldn’t have a problem hitting the lower tiers and still earning a raise, but if he wants to become the highest-paid tight end in the league, his chances will undoubtedly come down to health.