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Patriots owner Robert Kraft sees Rob Gronkowksi working out after hours

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It doesn’t sound like the tight end is slowing down.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is debating whether or not to return to the NFL for the 2018 season. Most expect him to play and many believe this will ultimately end in an increased contract for Gronkowski (his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had “no update” for the Boston Globe).

Add Patriots team owner Robert Kraft to the list of people that thinks Gronkowski could show off his athleticism next season.

“Well, I saw him few weeks ago come into the building after hours,” Kraft said via the Providence Journal. “But, I should say one thing, when it comes to Gronk, I’ve met a lot of people in my life, I’ve never met anyone like him. If the good lord lets us come back as someone, I’ve said it before, he’s the most carefree, happy, up-kind of guy. I must say I sort of got excited seeing him vault up on Shaq’s shoulders. For a guy that size to be able to hop up on a 7′2 or whatever Shaq is, is pretty cool. So that speaks well for his potential athletic moves this coming year.”

Gronkowski is working out late at the office? That’s a great sign.

The All Pro tight end is scheduled to earn $8.9 million in cash this year, which trails only Packers tight end Jimmy Graham and Bears tight end Trey Burton, both of whom just signed new contracts with guaranteed money.

But Gronkowski is one of the best offensive players in the entire NFL and won’t measure his value against the other tight ends.

Two running backs (Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell and 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon) and a whopping sixteen wide receivers are scheduled to make more than Gronkowski this upcoming year.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Gronowski received additional incentives in his contract, just like he had last season, that could once again vault him into the top tier of offensive skill player contracts. If he has an opportunity to make $3 million more in 2018 in incentives, then he would rank in the top ten for offensive skill player cash this year.

Will the Patriots do it? They did it last season and maybe they’d be willing to do it again if Gronkowski tacked on an extra year at the end of his deal, similar to how Patrick Chung received a pay-raise this offseason.

The Patriots should let Gronkowksi have a $1 million bump for each of the following: 1) 1,000 yards from scrimmage; 2) 10 touchdowns; 3) All Pro Distinction; 4) Patriots reach the Super Bowl.

Boom. Done deal. Sign that contract, Rob.