Original story| ESPN
March 3, 2016
By Mike Reiss

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski tweeted about his contract and a “pay cut” on Monday night, sparking discussion on social media on if he was joking, serious or somewhere in between.

The tweet was sent out on the same day the Patriots picked up the remaining $6 million of his $10 million option that picks up the second part of his contract through 2019. It also came shortly before Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, who is represented by Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, re-signed in Indianapolis for four years and $29 million (with $12 million paid in the first year).

My immediate reaction to Gronkowski’s tweet was that it was “Gronk humor.” The “ha ha” ultimately led me to that conclusion. In essence, what Gronkowski is saying to me is that he works hard for reasons other than his contract.

Some Twitter followers, however, weren’t as quick to buy it.

However one sees it, let’s focus solely on the contract numbers and what the financial picture looks like for the 26-year-old Gronkowski.

Prior to the 2012 season, two years into his NFL career, Gronkowski signed a six-year extension with a maximum value of $55.2 million. In doing so, he sacrificed the chance to hit unrestricted free agency until he was on the cusp of turning 31, but gained more immediate financial security in the process.

That immediate financial security turned out to be important based on forearm and knee injuries Gronkowski would endure in 2012 and 2013. After those two seasons, this is what I wrote: “The decision to pick up the option bonus, while not a factor for the Patriots for at least another year, could be hotly debated if Gronkowski is once again sidelined by injuries at times over the ’14 and ’15 seasons.”

That’s where things stood entering 2014. Some analysts were questioning if Gronkowski could stay healthy and was worth the long-term investment.

Two years later, with Gronkowski avoiding serious injury and playing at an extremely high level, it was a no-brainer for the Patriots to pick up the $10 million option to activate the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 years of the six-year extension signed in ’12. The team had essentially declared its intention before the start of the last season by paying $4 million of the $10 million option to Gronkowski at that time.

So this is what Gronkowski’s contract looks like:

2015: $4.75 million base salary (plus $10 million option bonus)

2016: $2.25 million base salary

2017: $4.25 million base salary

2018: $8 million base salary

2019: $9 million base salary

There is an ebb and flow with long-term contracts like this, and based on this snapshot and the projection that Gronkowski stays healthy, it’s a deal that looks good for the Patriots over the next two seasons.

Yes, Gronkowski is making less in 2016 than he did in 2015. But that’s simply a result of the way the contract that both sides agreed to was drawn up.

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Jovany Mondragon