Perhaps you have to speak Gronk to understand Rob Gronkowski’s now-controversial tweet from Monday night.
For those who didn’t see it, the New England Patriots tight end’s tweet read:
It seems those who wanted to stir up controversy over the tweet only chose to read the first half, when Gronkowski appeared to complain about his contract. It seems, based on the second half of the tweet, that Gronkowski actually was saying he doesn’t play football for the money. And the “Haha” suggests there was nothing overly serious to take away from the message.
The Patriots paid out the remaining $6 million of a $10 million option that could keep Gronkowski on the roster through 2019. He’ll earn between $30.5 million and $33 million (depending on per game bonuses) over the next four years of his contract.
If the Patriots chose not to pick up his $10 million option, Gronkowski undoubtedly would have earned much more on the open market. The Indianapolis Colts just gave tight end Dwayne Allen, who caught 16 passes for 109 yards with one touchdown in 2015, a four-year, $29.4 million contract.
Gronkowski signed his six-year, $54 million contract extension way back in June 2012, when he had been in the NFL for just two seasons. He played just 11 games in 2012 and and seven games in 2013, so while the Patriots look like geniuses for locking up Gronkowski so early now, that wasn’t always the case.
It’s possible the Patriots will choose to extend Gronkowski at some point over the next four years, but it actually would benefit both sides. Gronkowski has salary cap hits of $11 million and $12 million in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and an extension likely would lower those figures. Gronkowski only will be 30 when his contract runs out after 2019, so he’s likely due at least one more big contract before his career ends.
Gronkowski also isn’t a completely typical Patriots player. He headlines the Internet’s tabloids with his partying, and this isn’t the first controversial tweet he’s sent out. He also publicly speaks out about injuries, which usually is a no-no with the Patriots. Yet he avoids any public punishment from the organization.
That’s because he isn’t a typical talent. Players such as Gronkowski, while performing at an extremely high level, receive special treatment from Bill Belichick. The Patriots coach might not laugh off Gronkowski’s latest tweet, but he’ll likely choose to ignore it.
If we’re only speculating based on Gronkowski’s tweet, I wouldn’t expect any contract disputes between the Patriots and their star tight end in the near future. But Gronkowski is underpaid compared to other tight ends in the NFL, so an extension could be on the horizon at some point.
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