New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has a chance to earn quite a bit of money Sunday, but doing so will not be easy.
To reach the top level of the contract he restructured before the season, Gronkowski needs at least 11 catches or 116 receiving yards in the Patriots’ regular-season finale against the New York Jets. If he reaches either those marks, he will receive an additional $2.5 million — no small chunk of change, even for a professional athlete.
Gronkowski also can pocket that bonus by earning a first-team All-Pro selection. Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs — the Pro Bowl starter for the AFC — will be his toughest competition for that honor.
If Gronkowski falls short, he’ll regretfully look back on the ill-advised late hit on Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White in Week 13 that earned him a one-game suspension. He also missed a game earlier in the season, sitting out a Week 5 win over the Tampa Bay Buccanneers with a thigh injury.
In 13 games, Gronkowski has 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. He fared well in New England’s first meeting with the Jets, catching six passes on 10 targets for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
The Patriots, who can clinch home-field advantage with a win or a Pittsburgh Steelers loss, enter Sunday’s game as 15 1/2-point favorites, and they might be wise to rest Gronkowski if they build a comfortable lead.
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