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Friday, February 22, 2019

Rob Gronkowski reportedly seeking more money from Patriots

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has created the impression this offseason that he is strongly considering retirement, but it is starting to look more and more like his indecisiveness has everything to do with his contract situation.

Gronkowski is not expected to show up when the Patriots officially begin their offseason program on Monday. While it’s possible he is still deciding if he wants to play in 2018, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports that Gronkowski’s refusal to commit is “about the money.” As Howe notes, Gronk already wanted a new contract before he revealed that he was contemplating retirement at the conclusion of Super Bowl LII. If he no longer wanted to play football, he probably would have decided that by now.

For what it’s worth, ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote on Monday that he believes Gronk’s absence from Day 1 of the offseason program is a “peaceful statement” that he wants more money, as the All-Pro tight end would be forfeiting a $250,000 bonus if he doesn’t attend 90 percent of the sessions.

Gronkowski’s base salary for 2018 is $8 million. That places him among the top-paid tight ends in the NFL, but it is $2 million less than the average Jimmy Graham is getting with the three-year, $30 million deal he signed with the Green Bay Packers. Plus, Gronk makes a bigger impact in the passing game than most of the league’s top receivers, and you have guys like TY Hilton and Doug Baldwin making $13 million and $11.5 million per year, respectively.

Last year, Gronk restructured his contract so that he had more than $5 million in incentives built in for 2017. He ended up earning all of them and making nearly $11 million, but he probably feels he should not have to deal with escalators in his contract going forward.

Gronkowski missed just one game due to injury last season, and he is said to be having some issues with Bill Belichick over training. All of that might factor into why he has not committed to playing in 2018, but a fatter contract could change his mindset in a hurry.

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