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Why is There No News on Gronk's Contract?

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots

In a nation filled with NFL training camps in all sorts of turmoil thanks to high-profile holdouts like Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, LeVeon Bell and even, for a couple of days, the rare rookie holdout by 3rd overall pick Sam Darnold, on the contract front the Patriots have had nothing but peace and quiet. Though in the case of Rob Gronkowski – like they used say in old movies just before an Indian attack (back before the term “Indian attack” became racist), – too quiet.

Everything we think we know about the Gronkowskis (and with Gronk it always seems like a package deal; like he’s just one part of the Borg collective that is the Gronkowski family. 6 of 9) is that they are unhappy with his contract. That they believe he’s outperformed his old deal, is underpaid and they want a pay raise and an extension. I mean, that has to be the case, right? Otherwise I’ve completely misinterpreted the meaning of all those #BandsMakeHerDance Tweets of his. And I speak fluent Juicy J, so that can’t be.

Because the Pats reworked Gronk’s deal last year, by rule he wasn’t eligible for a new one until sometime in late May. On June 8th, we experienced that long, national nightmare that was the rumor he’d been traded.  There were reports that a deal was expected to get done just before the start of camp, followed almost immediately by other, more ominous reports telling us to slow our roll. Since then … crickets. We’re into August now, more than two months since Gronk could get a new contract. And counting.

But deals have been getting done elsewhere and my biggest concern is that they are the banana in the tailpipe of the Gronk talks. If there are actually Gronk talks taking place. The Rams extended Brandin Cooks for 5 years at around $14 million per. Stefon Diggs got something very similar from the Vikings. Both will make way more than Gronk when they literally don’t do half of what he does.

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And there’s yer problem, lady. It’s not the players. Cooks and Diggs are both quality receivers. The problem is the NFL. It’s in how they pay different positions. The Gronk collective is no doubt hacked off that for some reason, wideouts get paid way more than tight ends who, to repeat literally do twice what they do.

Gronk not only finished 10th in the league in receiving yards despite missing two games, he is one of – if not the – best blocking tight end in the game. But the whole NFL system is so insanely out of whack that there are, depending on how you calculate salaries, like 20 wide receivers making more than him. Including Stefon Diggs, who finished 25th in yards and 31st in receptions. And who is never asked to road grade 300 lb defensive lineman on goal line running plays.

Going strictly by average annual salary, just to keep this apples-to-apples, here are the highest paid wideouts:

–Antonio Brown:      $17,000,000
–Mike Evans:             $16,500,000
–DeAndre Hopkins: $16,200,000
–Brandin Cooks:       $16,200,000

And tight ends:

–Jimmy Graham:     $10,000,000
–Travis Kelce:              $9,368,400
–Jordan Reed:             $9,350,000
–Gronk:                         $9,000,000

In what kind of a Bizzarro World do guys who catch passes, open holes on the line of scrimmage and protect quarterbacks make way less than guys who just catch passes? Spoiler: It’s the the NFL. Because they’ve got a salary structure based on days when, say, Dave Casper would make four straight All Pros at tight end with somewhere between 600 and 800 yards. Back when the position didn’t mean much. So you took a slightly more athletic tackle with decent hands and told him to run routes once in a while. The position has evolved, but the pay hasn’t kept pace. Jimmy Graham tried to make that point in his arbitration a few years ago by saying he’s basically a big wideout and should be paid like one. And the arbitrator told him to go piss up a rope because he doesn’t make the rules, the league and the Players Association do.

I have no doubt whatsoever the Pats are willing to make Gronk the highest paid player at his position of all time. I’m confident of that because they’ve done it before. And not just with him, but with Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins and Tom Brady. But I can also see them drawing the line at paying him like an elite wideout the way he’d like. And like he actually deserves. Because as Clint said in Unforgiven, “Deserving’s got nothing to do with it.” It makes no sense. It’s not fair. They system is totally antiquated. It’s actually an injustice that a guy who puts up receiving numbers better than Cooks and blocks like a left tackle can’t get what he should.

But that’s on the league and the union who put this stupid system together. Like the Patriots say, they’re just doing business as business is done. I’m just glad Gronk is saying nothing, showing up and doing, as they say, his job. And hope we hear progress on this soon. In the meantime, if you have a son who’s 6-6, 265 lbs of pure strength and freakish athleticism, be sure you raise him to be a wide receiver.