Most NFL fans would agree that New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski is the league’s best overall tight end.
After restructuring his current deal on Tuesday, now he will be paid like he's the best under a few conditions, the most notable of the bunch being if he stays healthy.
As Patriots fans know, that’s a big “if”.
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Last season, Gronk played in just eight games and hasn’t played all 16 regular season games since the 2011 season, his second year in the league, due to a number of injuries along the way.
When he’s healthy, due to his unique combination of size (6’6” and 265 pounds), strength and agility, the 28-year-old is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, since he’s able to outrun most linebackers and able to out-muscle most members of opposing secondaries.
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As ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, Gronkowski’s new deal is contingent upon clear incentives.
As you can see above, Gronk’s restructured deal is based on not only his performance, but also his health.
He will have a chance to make the maximum $10.75 million if he plays 90 percent of the offensive snaps (which he’s done once before), or records 80 receptions (which he’s done twice), or has 1,200 yards receiving (which he’s done once), or is named an All-Pro (he’s been selected three times so far). He only has to meet one of the conditions to become the NFL's highest-paid tight end.
In his 2011 season, it’s worth noting that he hit all three statistical markers in the max deal above. Therefore, both he and the team know that it's a very realistic possibility that he earns the top dollar amount possible if he can avoid injuries.
While Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks is due to make $10 million in 2017, Gronk has every opportunity to become the highest-paid man at the position.
When he’s played in 15 or more regular season games (not counting his rookie year), he has put up incredible numbers as one of the few go-to pass-catching tight ends in the NFL.
In 2011, he had 90 catches for 1,327 receiving yards with 17 touchdowns while suiting up for all 16 regular season contests. In 2014, he had 82 catches for 1,124 receiving yards with 12 scores in 15 regular-season games. Finally, in 2015, he hauled in 72 passes for 1,176 receiving yards with 11 touchdowns.
While the Patriots won the Super Bowl without him last season, Tom Brady and company will clearly benefit from his skill set when he takes the field this season. As a go-to option in the passing game, Gronk now has a clear financial incentive to have the best season of his incredible career.
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