Money is reportedly a factor in Rob Gronkowski’s decision to sit out
Another week has gone by and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to make his 2013 debut. The team obviously expected him back by now, otherwise they would have put him on the physically unable to perform list and not wasted a roster spot on him through Week 6. According to the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, the Patriots believe Gronk is ready to return and have left the decision “squarely” in his hands.
So what’s the holdup? Given Gronkowski’s extensive injury history, it is reasonable to assume that he is worried about his contract. Gronkowski recently signed a $55 million contract extension that runs through the 2019 season. However, Volin pointed out that the Patriots have flexibility that would allow them to avoid paying up to $41 million of that deal if they cut ties with Gronk before the 2015 season.
Gronkowski’s $3.75 million base salary and $250,000 workout bonus for 2014 are guaranteed. However, his $4.75 million base salary for 2015 only becomes fully guaranteed if Gronkowski is on the team after the fifth day of the league year, which is sometime in March of 2015. If he has not been effective because of injuries, New England can cut him and save $5.35 million in cap space for 2015.
A similar scenario would arise after the 2015 season, even if the Patriots keep Gronk’s $4.75 million on the books for that season. New England has until the last day of the 2015 league year, sometime in March of 2016, to decide whether to pay Gronkowski a $10 million option bonus and continue paying the remaining $27 million on his contract.
Of course, the Patriots are not looking for a way out of Gronkowski’s contract. They signed him to a massive extension because they expect the 24-year-old to be a focal point of their offense for years to come. However, Gronk is playing (or not playing) for the league minimum of $630,000 this season. If he feels sitting out longer will help protect him from further injury and secure his financial future — even if his mom insists he is dying to get back onto the field — Gronk may do just that.