Money could be keeping Gronk from rushing back

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe claims that a source has told him that the “rift” between the Patriots and tight end Rob Gronkowski has been overblown.

A league source insisted that the reported rift between Gronk and the team is overblown, and that the Patriots are understanding of Gronkowski’s precaution; they want him to be productive for several more years. But the Patriots feel he is as ready to play as he’ll be this season, and they have put the decision to return squarely in Gronk’s hands.

It sounds like money is one of the reasons Gronkowski is waiting a little longer to get on the field and help his team on Sundays.

Volin posted a breakdown of Gronks contract going forward.

Gronkowski signed a contract extension in 2012 worth a maximum of $55 million, but he needs to stay healthy all the way through the 2015 season to receive most of it — which, after the medical scares of the last 12 months, looks like a daunting task.

Gronkowski will get his $3.75 million base salary (plus a $250,000 workout bonus) in 2014 no matter what.

The key year is 2015. Gronkowski’s $4.75 million base salary is fully guaranteed, but only if he’s on the team on the fifth day of the 2015 league year (sometime in mid-March). If he’s not an effective player anymore, the Patriots can cut him and save $5.35 million in cap space for the 2015 season.

Assuming the Patriots keep Gronkowski for 2015, he really needs to have a big season. He has a $10 million option bonus in his contract, and the Patriots have until the very last day of the 2015 league year (sometime in March 2016) to make a decision on it.

If Gronkowski is good and healthy, he gets his $10 million, and as much as $27 million more on a contract that runs through 2019. If he’s hurt or not productive? The Patriots can cut bait before or after 2015 and avoid paying up to $41 million of a contract with a maximum of $55 million.

Add in the fact that Gronkowski is making only the league minimum $630,000 this season, and it’s easy to see why his people don’t want him rushing back to the field so quickly.

I’m not sure Gronkowski is going to be able to avoid the inevitable.  Let’s face it,  he’s injury prone and probably won’t be able to avoid the fact that his career could end up being shorter than he had hoped for.