Rob Gronkowski suspension could ultimately cost Patriots star millions
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski’s late hit against Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White on Sunday has cost him a game, as the NFL suspended Gronkowski one game on Monday. But that lapse in judgment might cost him more than just a game check.
The Patriots rebuilt Gronkowski’s contract prior to the 2017 season and made it heavily incentive-laden. He can earn up to an additional $3 million based on playing time or productivity and missing the game next Monday against the Miami Dolphins puts those incentives in serious jeopardy.
Gronkowski can earn a $1 million bonus by participating in 70 percent of the Patriots’ offensive snaps, catching 60 passes for more than 800 yards, or catching 10 touchdown passes. With 55 catches for 849 yards and 7 touchdowns, he’s a virtual lock to hit that bonus regardless of the suspension.
However, he can increase that bonus to $2 million by playing in 80 percent of the offensive snaps, catching 70 passes and hitting 1,000 yards receiving, or catching 12 touchdown passes. He’s played in 82.6 percent of snaps to date after missing a game in Week 5 and missing all of the snaps in Week 14 will mean he likely has to hit his productivity benchmarks to get there.
All three of those numbers are doable, but they’re far from guarantees with three games remaining after serving the suspension.
Finally, Gronkowski can increase that bonus one final time to $3 million by playing in 90 or more percent of snaps, catching 80 passes for 1,200 yards, catching 14 touchdown passes or by making the All-Pro team. All of those numbers would be difficult to get to with him needing 25 catches for 351 yards or 7 touchdown receptions in just three weeks.
That means getting the max bonus will most likely be entirely dependent on whether The Associated Press votes him to the All-Pro team; it’s tough to envision him hitting the productivity numbers. He’s the most dominant tight end of his generation, so he is certainly in the running to earn that nod and receive his full bonus, but things certainly got more difficult on Monday.
With a base salary of $4 million in 2017, missing Week 14 due to suspension will cost him $250,000 for sure, but clearly it could be a lot more costly.
And he has nobody to blame but himself.