By PFW staff
The Patriots have signed TE Rob Gronkowski to a six-year, $54 million deal, making Gronk the highest-paid tight end in NFL history.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the signing.
"Congrats to Gronk & his family on his contract extension with the Patriots," Gronkowski's agent Drew Rosenhaus tweeted. "My thanks to Mr. Kraft & Coach Belichick for making this possible."
According to Pro Football Talk, the deal contains $13.17 million guaranteed, which includes an $8 million signing bonus and each of Gronkowski's first three base salaries. Another $5 million is guaranteed for injury only. The Patriots will have to decide in 2016 whether or not to pick up a $10 million option bonus.
Gronkowski is entering his third season in the NFL and the third of his rookie contract. The 2010 second-rounder set a tight-end record last season with 17 touchdown catches. He had 90 receptions for 1,327 yards — also a single-season record for tight ends — and added a rushing score.
As a rookie, Gronkowski had 42 catches for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. Gronkowski had ankle surgery this offseason after suffering a high ankle sprain in the AFC championship game, which hampered him in the Super Bowl loss to the Giants.
The way we see it
This is a big move by the Patriots to keep arguably the league’s best tight end in Foxborough for the long term. Gronkowski has helped revolutionize the TE position. Gronk had a monster season in 2011, and defenses could not stop him. While he gets most of his accolades for his receiving, Gronkowski rarely leaves the field and is an adept run blocker for the Patriots. As much flak as the Patriots have received for how they handle contracts with certain players, most recently WR Wes Welker, who is right now playing under the franchise tag, they have been efficient with young, elite talent, such as signing LB Jerod Mayo to an extension last December.
Next offseason, the Patriots have big contracts to consider, including Patrick Chung and Sebastian Vollmer. After that, the team will have to look at TE Aaron Hernandez, LB Brandon Spikes and CB Devin McCourty. From a financial standpoint, getting Gronkowski’s deal done soon gives the Patriots some flexibility heading into two offseasons that could involve big spending to keep such skilled players from recent draft classes.
The Saints will be looking closely at this deal, as the market is now set for the seam-stretching tight ends like Jimmy Graham, who also had a sensational 2011 campaign.