Rob Gronkowski watch still is on.
The New England Patriots tight end took everyone by surprise when he would not commit to playing football in 2018, and speculation about Gronkowski’s potential retirement plans have run rampant ever since the offseason began.
The 28-year-old recently was seen dressed as a leprechaun during St. Patrick’s Day, saying he was unsure about his NFL future but noted he could “play for the 69ers.” Obviously, more than a few adult beverages factored into that comment.
While no one outside of Gronkowski’s inner circle knows whether he really might retire due to the injuries he’s sustained or if this is just some sort of contract negotiation tactic, one former sports agent gave his two cents on the saga.
Joel Corry, who used to work for Management Plus Enterprises and helped found Premier Sports and Entertainment, now writes for CBS Sports. In Corry’s latest article, he touched on why Gronkowski’s indecision could be a contract tactic and how two contracts that recently were given out might have made him upset.
“The four-year, $32 million contract a largely unproven Trey Burton received from the (Chicago) Bears may only provide more confirmation to Gronkowski that something more than another short-term fix with incentives should be done with his contract,” Corry writes. “Burton has $11.3 million in the first contract year. Jimmy Graham at age 31 remaining the NFL’s only $10 million-per-year tight end despite a sizable statistical regression in 2017 on his new deal with the Packers may add insult to injury. Graham is making $13 million in 2018.”
While Corry, like the rest of us, has no idea whether Gronkowski is annoyed at his contract or is tired of being a battering ram, this certainly is an interesting point.
In 2017, Gronkowski tallied 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers were good for fifth, first and second in the NFL among tight ends, respectively.
Graham, who is set to make around $4 million more than Gronkowski in total cash in 2018, per Spotrac, led the league in touchdowns for tight ends with 10, but he ranked ninth in catches and 17th in yards in 2017.
Burton, who was the Eagles’ backup tight end, ranked even lower in all three categories and will make around $3 million more than the Patriots star in total cash next season.
While there’s no way of knowing if Gronkowski is unhappy with his current contract, Corry makes a keen observation about the correlation, or lack thereof, between on-field production and dollars earned in the tight end market.