In a completely unsurprising move, the New England Patriots are expected to officially pick up the contract option for All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski that will keep the future Hall of Famer on the team through the year 2019, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
This move is a total no-brainer. The option comes with a $10 million bonus for the tight end, but the Patriots had already paid $4 million of the bonus prior to the 2015 season as a sign of the team's intention.
Gronkowski originally signed a 6-year, $54 million contract extension in 2012, with the final four seasons of the contract dependent on the Patriots picking up the contract option. New England built in the option as protection against Gronkowski's injury potential.
While $9 million per year (APY) is a large amount for a player on the Patriots, Gronkowski is definitely worth more than every penny. The annual average is 4th in the NFL, behind the Seahawks Jimmy Graham ($10 million APY), the Chiefs Travis Kelce ($9.4 million APY), and the Jaguars Julius Thomas ($9.2 million APY). Gronkowski is head-and-shoulders better than any of those players, which makes him a total bargain.
Gronkowski's base salaries will increase over the next four seasons from $2.25 million, to $4.25 million, $8 million, and $9 million, so look for the Patriots to restructure his contract in 2018 to reduce his cap hit and possibly build in a few more years at the end of the deal.