By now, we’ve all put ourselves in Rob Gronkowski’s shoes.
Playing in the NFL has taken a toll on his body. He wants to control his own training regimen. He’s highly underpaid. He enjoys acting. And his interest in the WWE is real.
It’s led to rampant speculation that Gronkowski is all but done playing football. It’s not about business, they’ll tell you. This is personal.
Well, I’m here to remind you that the New England Patriots still exist. And it’s time to stop trying to decode every tweet, and start putting yourself in the shoes of someone in the Patriots’ organization who has some say in the matter.
Before I go any further, I should reiterate my very strong belief that Gronkowski isn’t going anywhere. I’ve been yelling and screaming on my podcast, since the Super Bowl, that there’s no chance Gronkowski goes to Hollywood or leaves for the WWE right now. The key phrase is, “right now,” as in, this offseason.
The rumors are probably true, to an extent. He will probably go to Hollywood at some point. He might even end up being a full-time WWE employee one day. But not right now.
Gronkowski has yet to verbally commit to playing football in 2018. But last I checked, he’s under contract for two more seasons. It’s a contract that’s seen its ups and downs, beginning as a six-year, $54 million extension, and ending as a re-worked performance-based deal.
In a league that’s all about guaranteed money for players, it’s laughable to think that one of the most physically-dominant receivers in NFL history is playing for incentives. Nobody is judging how easy or difficult it might be to reach those incentives. It’s the principle alone that counts here.
It seems borderline offensive to see record-breaking deals with record-breaking guaranteed money every offseason, and then have to discuss Gronkowski’s upcoming incentives. And if I’m offended by that, how do you think Gronkowski and his agent Drew Rosenhaus feel?
I think we’re finding out now.
Gronkowski wants guaranteed money. And he has every right to demand it. Instead of storming into Foxboro and risking the potential of being perceived as “greedy” to those who can’t understand how a multi-billion dollar industry works, he’s simply threatening to leave and go do something else.
But if you think the Patriots are going to just let him walk away, you are misguided.
The next rumor you’ll probably hear is that Bill Belichick is listening to trade offers for Gronkowski. That might not actually be true, but it will at least be leaked from Foxboro with the “two can play this game” mindset.
Eventually, this offseason, the two sides will talk. And if you put yourself in the Patriots’ shoes, how could you possibly tell Gronkowski to turn in his playbook and then walk him to his car?
Knowing that the Patriots are now all-in on the remainder of the Tom Brady era, it made sense to see them make a last-minute push to keep Josh McDaniels around. Under that same strategy, it would make sense for the Patriots to make a similar push for Gronkowski, and give him what he wants, which is more guaranteed money.
While the Patriots fully understand the soon-to-be 29-year-old’s injury history, there isn’t a single person in that organization who wants to see Gronkowski in next year’s Royal Rumble while the team is preparing for Super Bowl LIII.
So they should do something similar to what the Jacksonville Jaguars just did to Blake Bortles’ contract. Bortles was scheduled to make $19 million in the final year of that contract in 2018. Last week, they reworked it into a new three-year deal worth $54 million, including $26.5 million guaranteed.
Gronkowski also fully understands his own injury history. So at 29 years old, guaranteed money is the key.
If I’m the Patriots, I’d get in a room and work something out. They have to. Because if the price is right, Gronkowski won’t be going anywhere.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” at dannypicard.com. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard.