The New England Patriots and TE Rob Gronkowski have agreed to a restructured contract in 2017 that could earn the four-time All Pro some additional cash. Gronkowski was scheduled to earn $4.75 million in cash this upcoming year (with an additional $250,000 if he played the full season), which ranked 18th in the NFL and was less than teammate Dwayne Allen, while his average annual earnings of $9 million ranked fourth.
Gronkowski will see an increase in pay if he reaches some very attainable goals, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (I’ve changed the order of Schefter’s tiers for easier reading):
3rd tier takes him to $6.75M is 70 percent playtime, 60 receptions, 800 receiving yards or 10 TDs.
2nd tier to $8.75M: he has to get 80 percent play time or 70 catches or 1000 receiving yards or 12 Tds.
1st tier, which gets him to $10.75M either 90 percent play time or 80 catches or 1200 receiving yards or All Pro.
Gronkowski gets an extra $2 million in cash with each successive tier and could pass Seattle Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham and his $10 million in 2017 earnings.
The Patriots tight end has a very good chance of reaching all of these incentives if he remains healthy- he just hasn’t played a full 16-game regular season since 2011. The playing time incentives might be difficult, but Gronkowski can reach the highest tier through his production.
Gronkowski has collected 60 and 70 receptions and 800 and 1,000 yards three times in his career, 80 receptions twice, and 1,200 yards once. He has surpassed 10 touchdowns five times and 12 touchdowns twice. He has been named All Pro four times in his career (three times by the Associated Press, which is the standard, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement also includes the Pro Football Writers Association All Pro team).
If Gronkowski plays 14 games during the season, he’ll probably ascend to the first tier, which makes this an extremely fair deal for Gronkowski. The Herald’s Jeff Howe notes that there are no changes to the remaining years of the contract in 2018 and 2019, which means that this was a case of the Patriots simply rewarding Gronkowski.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says this restructure has been in the works for the past six months.