Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO – Word that the Brothers Rosenhaus, agents for Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, were in Foxboro on Sunday and talking with the team about a new deal is a good news/bad news story for the Patriots locker room. 

The good news? Gronk is trending toward being the best tight end in NFL history. Even though he’s under contract through 2019, he’s making peanuts in salary this year ($2.25 million – 16th among the league’s tight ends) relative to his contribution level. Redoing the six-year, $54M deal he signed in 2012 so that his cashflow is in line with tight ends at the top of the pay scale is a smart move, since there’s no reason to agitate Gronk or the bottom-line conscious folks around him.

The bad news? Gronk should be about fifth or sixth in line when it comes to getting a new deal. Patriots really playing at a cut rate, guys that haven’t gotten lucrative “second” contracts as Gronk has may respond with a united “WTF?” when they learn of the words “Gronk” and “extension” in the same sentence.

The list of miffed could include – in order of possible irritation – Malcolm Butler ($600K this year), Jamie Collins ($917K), Donta Hightower ($7.7M but having made $11M in his first four years), Jabaal Sheard ($4M at the end of two-year $11M deal), Logan Ryan ($1.6M) and Duron Harmon ($1.665M). All of those players are up at the end of 2016.

 

Before I type another paragraph I have to point out  Rosenhaus is one of the NFL’s great propagandists.

Everyone knows Gronk’s deal is outdated. Everyone knows who negotiated it for him. Every time the laughable 2016 salary Gronk will make is brought up, it reflects poorly on Rosenhaus.

So, there’s a chance Rosenhaus is stomping out that smoldering fire of, “Wow, you really got Gronk playing for $2.5M still?” by swinging through Foxboro and letting it be known negotiations are underway.

The disclaimer from NFL Media’s Mike Garafalo’s source that a new deal is “not imminent” gives him a measure of cover with the team because the Patriots front office likes contract leaks less than urinary tract infections.  

Unless Rosenhaus “getting it out there” that there are talks came with the Patriots blessing in an effort to satisfy Gronk’s always vigilant father, Gordie Gronkowski, that something’s being done. There’s a lot of care and feeding that goes into one iconic tight end.  

But the simple news there are Gronk negotiations is the greater message. And if the aforementioned players haven’t seen movement on their own new deals – and things weren’t speeding along on those fronts earlier this summer – who could blame them for being irked?

It’s been a little while since the Patriots had full-blown contract agita. That used to be an annual occurrence with every big-name player – Milloy, Law, Seymour, Vinatieri, Brady, Welker, Harrison, Moss, Wilfork and Mankins.

But the landscape right now is similar to those years. Most similar to 2009 when both Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins were waiting on new deals. Wilfork – who was really getting jobbed on his six-year rookie contract – escalated the rhetoric and talked about leaving New England before getting his new deal.

At first, Mankins rolled with that, saying, “I signed a contract. I was the one who signed it, so I feel obligated to be here and practicing. Until I don’t have a contract, I’m here to play. . . . Vince’s situation is different than mine. He’s a year older, he’s played a year more than me, so he’s looking at it in a different way than I am. I don’t blame him for what he’s doing. He’s a good guy, a good teammate, he’s always been good to the franchise. He has to do what he has to do.”

But when Mankins was kept waiting for his deal and watching others get new ones, he eventually broke a bit, saying, “You see other guys signing extensions, and you wish you were one of those guys with an extension. It is what it is, I guess. You’ll have to ask the powers that be around here if I’m going to get one or not. Because I don’t know.” 

 

By the start of 2010, Mankins was holding out and had declared verbal war on the Patriots in a way no other pissed-off Patriot ever had.

That worked out in the end. And all these deals – Butler, Hightower and Collins at the fore – may as well. But it doesn’t mean this “Gronk negotiation” news will pass without notice.