New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is currently playing under a bargain contract for an average of $9 million per year (APY). He's the fourth highest paid tight end in the NFL, and he is currently the undisputed #1 player at his position- and he's so far ahead of the competition that he's probably also the #2 and #3 best tight ends on his own.
Colts tight end Dwayne Allen just signed a massive 4-year, $30 million contract to remain in Indianapolis, which shows how inflated the position has become. Allen has 91 receptions, 1,046 receiving yards, and 13 touchdowns over his four seasons in the NFL. Rob Gronkowski collected 87 receptions, 1,403 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns over the course of the 2015 regular- and post-season.
And now the Patriots have picked up Gronkowski's contract option that will keep him in New England through the year 2019, and it seems like the tight end has released a cryptic tweet with two possible meanings.
If ya think about it that Option pick up basically equals pay cut the next 4 seasons... I don't work hard for those reasons. Haha— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) March 8, 2016
Gronkowski received $10 million in an option bonus during the 2015 season, in addition to a $4.75 base salary and a $250,000 workout bonus, bringing the total cash flow of $15 million to Gronkowski's bank account for the 2015 season.
Over the next four seasons, Gronkowski will see a cash flow of $3 million, $5 million, $9 million, and $10 million if he plays every single game. This means that, technically, Gronkowski will receive less money in each of the next four years than he did in 2015, possibly leading to his use of the words "pay cut".
The "I don't work hard for those reasons" note is being interpreted in two main ways.
The most Gronk-like way to see the statement is that Gronk is saying that he doesn't care about the pay cut because the money is not why he works hard to be the greatest tight end the world has ever seen.
The most un-Gronk-like way to interpret the wording is that the tight end doesn't work hard to be the best tight end in football in order to see the Patriots cut his salary. I don't think this is true, but this seems to be a common reading of the tweet.
Don't worry- Gronkowski won't be going anywhere. He's a bargain over the next two seasons and he'll likely be due for a restructure before his base salary balloons to $8 million and $9 million in 2018 and 2019.