Gronkowski, who signed a new deal prior to the 2012 season that was commonly represented as the highest-ever at his position, could in fact end up averaging just over $4 million a season for the Patriots and could be gone by the 2015 season.
Gronkowski, whose health history led to him signing a team-friendly extension in the first place, has most of the money in this deal tied up from 2016-2019, which at this point he is unlikely to see. Gronkowski is set to make $15 million alone in 2015, in the form of $5 million in salary (which is guaranteed only for injury but not for cap or production purposes), as well as a $10 million option bonus that the Patriots could opt to pick up at any point in the 2015 league year. Numerous sources who reviewed this contract said they highly doubt New England picks up that $10 million option, which would make Gronk a free agent.
If the Patriots pick up Gronk’s option, then his contract will be extended from 2016-2019.
Should New England pick up that bonus, that triggers Gronkowski’s deal from 2016-2019 (worth $27 million). Given Gronkowski’s run of injuries — it stands to reason he opens 2014 on the Physically Unable To Perform List and returns to the team midseason — and the calculated manner with which Bill Belichick often operates, it’s quite likely this situation is resolved even before the 2015 season.
With Gronk now out with a torn ACL and the fact that he’s undergone multiple back and forearm surgeries, he clearly can’t hold up for the long haul.
In the end I don’t see how it will be worthwhile for the Patriots to keep Gronkowski until 2019.