Well, it appears we have an answer, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Gronkowski's new deal with the Patriots is for six years and $54 million. That makes him the highest paid tight end in NFL history.
Patriots fans certainly saw this coming given the way Gronkowski has produced in his first two NFL seasons. After an impressive rookie campaign in which Gronkowski caught 10 touchdown passes, the 23-year-old broke out for a monster second year in 2011. He caught 90 balls for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 18 total touchdowns — he was also credited with a rushing touchdown — is the highest single-season total for a tight end in league history.
Gronkowski's teammate, Wes Welker, has also been seeking a long-term extension this offseason, but his efforts haven't amounted to much thus far. The wide receiver had the franchise tender placed on him, meaning he'll make $9.5 million this season, but his future beyond that is unclear.
Gronkowski's rookie contract was worth $4.44 million, and he was in line to earn $540,000 this season and $575,000 next season before reportedly inking the new deal.