Few players have drawn more attention on the offensive side of the ball in the past few seasons than Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, who's become one of the most versatile and dominant threats in the NFL. Now in his 6th NFL season in New England, Gronkowski is seemingly doing it all right now - from reliable pass/run blocking to 3rd down conversions, and most importantly, as the goto option for Tom Brady in the redzone. When healthy, he's nearly unstoppable - regardless of the opposing defense's gameplan.
Gronkowski has 4+ years remaining on his 6 year $54M extension with the Patriots. The deal contains $42M in cash left to be made - though a $10M option bonus is the only technically guaranteed of that figure. Gronk received $4M of that bonus this past offseason, with the balance to be paid at the start of 2016. His $9M AAV ranks third behind Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas, so it's not as though his current contract is leaps and bounds below the going rate.
We'll take a look at the current tight end market, assessing the production of Gronkowski in comparison to other top players who have recently signed new contracts to find his current calculated value.
Now 26 years old, Gronkowski is right at the age where most of our tight ends have signed their deals. Since Jimmy Graham was 27, we'll adjust his contract accordingly, then to determine a more likely starting point for our numbers, we'll perform a linear regression of each contract breakdown listed below.
|Player||Length||Value||Avg. Salary||Age When Signed|
Note: A linear regression is a formula that plots the provided points of data for Length and Value of the contracts, and then generates the best-fit line for those points, resulting in a "slope" value that translates to an average annual salary.
View the list of Top Average Paid Tight Ends in the NFL
Once a linear regression is performed on these new numbers we're given the following terms to begin with:
|Length||Value||Avg. Salary (slope)|
Now let's analyze these players statistically in the year prior to signing their second contract by comparing Games Played, Targets/G, Receptions/G, Receiving Yards/ G, and Receiving TDs/G between our variables and Gronkowski.
|AVERAGE PRIME %:||16.25%|
|MEDIAN PRIME %||22%|
Gronkowski is far and away ahead of our variables here, with the only known red flag being his inability to stay healthy and on the field all season long. We'll factor in both the Average and Median percentages to show a range projection below.
Length of the Contract
With 4 years remaining on his current deal, we're looking at a restructure here more than anything. At 26 years old, a 5 year deal running through 2020 makes sense.
Value of the Contract
When he's on the field, his production is second to none. He's an intelligent, powerful, reliable weapon for Brady and the Patriots, and he's excelling across the board. As this evaluation clearly shows, Rob Gronkowski deserves to be the highest paid/guaranteed tight end in football, as he's well on his way to going down as one of the best to ever play the position. We'll break out our MEDIAN and AVERAGE figures:
Low Value (HOMETOWN DISCOUNT)
Utilizing our Average Prime Percentage (16.25%), we're forecasting Gronkowski as the 2nd highest average paid TE:
5 years, $49,625,000,472,156 | $9,925,000 per year | $31,250,000 guaranteed
High Value (MAX-VALUE DEAL)We'll split the difference to offer the best-value forecast for Rob Gronkowski's current value:
Utilizing our Average Prime Percentage ( 22%), we're forecasting Gronkowski as the highest paid TE of all-time.
5 years, $52,250,000 | $10,450,000 per year | $33,000,000 guaranteed