Gronkowski is wrapping up his 10th season as a professional football player, and his first year back in action after coming out of retirement.
After spending nine years with the New England Patriots — the team that drafted him in the second round, 42nd overall in the 2010 NFL Draft — Gronkowski spent a year retired before returning to play after longtime New England QB Tom Brady signed a contract with the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay then negotiated a trade with New England, as Gronkowski retired while he was under contract and the Patriots still owned the rights to him. The Buccaneers sent the Patriots a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft in exchange for Gronkowski’s services and a seventh-round pick.
Here’s what you need to know:
Rob Gronkowski Is in the Final Year of His Current Contract
Gronkowski is in the final year of his current contract and will become an unrestricted free agent on March 17, at 4 p.m. EST, the day the 2021 NFL year officially begins and free agency opens. Upon agreeing to the trade, according to USA Today, Gronkowski signaled that he would honor the terms of the contract he had on the books in New England, meaning the Buccaneers inherited the final year of the six-year, $54-million deal extension he signed with the Patriots in 2012.
“Rob Gronkowski signed a 6 year, $54,000,000 contract with the New England Patriots, including an $8,000,000 signing bonus, $12,920,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $9,000,000,” Spotrac reports .
Gronkowski’s contract pays him a $9 million base salary for the 2020 season and includes a $250,000 workout bonus. Additional incentives include a bonus of $46,875 for each game for which he was active; as Gronkowski was active for all 16 regular season games, he earns an additional $750,000, bringing the total value of his deal to $10 million for the 2020 season.
Positionally, his $9.25 million cap hit is more than twice than that of the Buccaneers’ second-highest paid tight end, Cameron Brate, whose deal is worth $4.25 million for 2020. Tampa Bay’s third-highest paid TE OJ Howard — who spent much of the season on injured reserve with a ruptured Achilles tendon — came in with a $3.5 million cap hit, according to Spotrac.
Looking at the Buccaneers roster as a whole, Gronkowski’s cap hit is the seventh-highest on the team, with QB Tom Brady setting the pace at $25 million. Gronkowski’s 2020 cap hit is fourth among the Tampa Bay offense, behind left tackle Donovan Smith ($14.5 million) and center Ryan Jensen ($10 million).
Linebackers Shaquil Barrett ($15.8 million), Jason Pierre-Paul ($12.8 million), and Lavonte David $10.75 million) also outpace Gronkowski’s contract, according to Spotrac.
Rob Gronkowski Previously Said He’d Like to Play Another Year
As Heavy previously reported, Gronkowski has already said he wants to return to play for the Buccaneers next season, regardless of the outcome of Super Bowl LV.
Speaking to NFL Network’s Willie McGinest after Tampa Bay’s playoff win against the New Orleans Saints, the veteran tight end said he feel’s good about the Bucs’ future.
“I feel like this team was built to win right now. It was put together this year to win right now. It always pops up in your mind, you’re thinking about the future a little bit. I can definitely see this team also having a lot of talent come back and have another successful run next year as well with me,” Gronkowski told McGinest.