News & Info/Headlines

Patriots Make Gronkowski The Highest-Paid TE In NFL History
The New England Patriots and tight end Rob Gronkowski have agreed on a contract extension that would make him a Patriot through 2019, a source with direct knowledge of the talks confirmed to's Ian Rapoport on Friday.

The 23-year-old is now the highest-paid tight end in NFL history.

As the Boston Herald put it, it's "just another record for the tight end, whose total dollars make him the second highest-paid player on the Patriots."

The new deal, which is tacked on to the end of his rookie deal, is worth $54 million over six years, the source told Rapoport. Gronkowski emerged as a record-setting force last year with 60 catches for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Including his final two years of his rookie deal, which he still has $1.115 million due, into the average, and Gronkowski will earn $6.95 million over the next eight years. Gronkowski's deal also includes an $8 million signing bonus, $13 million guaranteed for skill, $18 million guaranteed for injury.

According to's Mike Florio, who first reported on the possible new deal Thursday night, the total cash for the next four years will be $18.23 million. That total exceeds the combination of Gronkowski's prior contract for the next two years and two years of the franchise tag.

Florio went on to note the Pats face a decision in 2016, at which time a $10 million option bonus comes due.

If the Patriots pick up the option (Florio suggests that factors will include whether Tom Brady is still the quarterback, whether Bill Belichick is still the head coach and whether Gronkowski is still playing at a high level), the final four years include salaries of $8 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019.

The Patriots now have the ability to use the franchise tag on tight end Aaron Hernandez in 2014, if they can't get a long-term deal done with him.

Meanwhile,'s Joe Hebert recently pointed out, the maturation and development that Gronkowski showed last season suggest he takes his craft seriously while the numbers he put up suggest that the rest of the league has not found a way to slow him down yet.

More importantly, from a Fantasy perspective, the new contract indicates the Patriots are well aware of that and it's safe to assume they'll continue to base their passing game on the mismatches that Gronkowski and Hernandez create at tight end.

Hebert added: "The addition of Brandon Lloyd likely means more sharing in the passing game, but Brady knows that Gronkowski is still the man in the red zone."

One last note here. ... Gronkowski, who had ankle surgery nearly four months ago, told reporters earlier this week that the recovery process is "going well."

He injured the ankle in the AFC Championship game and played through it in the team's Super Bowl loss to the Giants two weeks later.

He hasn't practiced in either of the two organized team activities that have been open to the media, but he has been able to work on his conditioning to the side of the field.

According to the Herald, there's still no telling when Gronkowski will get back on the field to practice. "Just taking it day by day," said Gronkowski. "Everything is going well, just feeling better every single week."

Based on the new deal, the Patriots aren't especially concerned about the ankle.