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Rob Gronkowski is now Patriots’ biggest offseason priority

Ryan Hannable
February 08, 2018 - 12:31 pm

Following the events of the last couple of days, it seems fairly certain Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady will all be with the Patriots in 2018.

Arguably, the three most important pieces are in place.

Now, their attention can turn to Rob Gronkowski.

Following Super Bowl LII, the tight end wouldn’t commit to playing next season when asked about a report that the game may have been the last of his career.

“I don’t know how you heard that, but I am definitely going to look at my future, for sure," he said. "Sit down the next couple of weeks and see where I am at.”

Certainly, it’s worth noting these comments came immediately following a tough loss which ended an at times stressful season, but they should be taken seriously.

Gronkowski is 28 years old and hasn’t spent a dime of the money he’s made on the field during his career, so he certainly could retire now if he really wanted, especially with the ability to make a few bucks on the side with difference appearances, sponsorship deals, etc.

The other side to the equation is Gronkowski made these statements as a leverage play when it comes to getting a new contract. Just look at who the report first came from — Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who is very close with Drew Rosenhaus, Gronkowski’s agent. 

The tight end hit the first tier of his incentive-based contract this season, which earned him just under $11 million. He only got this because he was named a first team All-Pro.

Having an incentive-based structure is great for the Patriots, as the more money he earns, means the more he’s on the field. And the more he's on the field, the more likely the Patriots are winning. But, if he isn’t on the field, that’s where it would hurt the tight end and where he likely wants to protect himself.

At this point in his career, Gronkowski is deserving of being the highest-paid tight end in the league without earning incentives in order to do so. As of now, the 28-year-old is in a position to earn $19 million over the next two seasons. That isn’t good enough, and certainly good enough reason for Gronkowski to demand more money.

Gronkowski has all the leverage. He knows the Patriots desperately need him and he can use the retirement plan as a way to get a new deal, and if he genuinely is serious about retiring, more money from the Patriots would likely help change his mind. 

It’s now up to the Patriots to pony up.

And they better.

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