The Patriots are always in the mood to renegotiate with young players whose work has exceeded their pay scale.
Especially if said player's future services can be had for a reasonable price when the renegotiation is done.
Sometimes the player bites (Jerod Mayo, Nick Kaczur, Danny Woodhead). Sometimes he doesn't (David Givens and Logan Mankins).
The Patriots are talking money with Rob Gronkowski. Our friend Mike Florio at PFT reports that they're actually done talking and Gronk's getting a raise for the final two years of his rookie deal (2012, 2013). Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, denied that and the NFLPA website still says Gronk is due to make 540,000 this year and 575,000 in 2013.
A pay bump over the final two years of his deal seems a lot more likely for Gronkowski now than an extension.
As the best tight end in football in 2012, Gronk is still just 23. He will become an unrestricted free agent at 25.
It's feels odd to think Rosenhaus would advise Gronkowski to delay his opportunity to be paid whatever the market will bear and sign an extension. Especially when the Patriots are surely going to lowball him.
But the Patriots are smart enough to know that it's good business on two fronts to pay Gronk more now. One, he deserves it and it looks bad if they don't. And two, it could buy goodwill in the future when it does come time to get a new deal done.
Contrary to perception, the Patriots often give those goodwill bumps to players who've outperformed their deals. Its when the deal is about to expire that muscle-flexing starts.
The tight end landscape in the NFL is going to be fascinating after 2013. Gronk, Aaron Hernandez, Saints standout Jimmy Graham and the Packers Jermichael Finley will all be unrestricted free agents.
What's the market going to look like? Well, Finley did a renegotiation in February, avoiding the franchise tag this year. He got two years and more than 14M.
The franchise tag will assuredly be in play for some in that group in 2014. And that will be a story unto itself since the 2012 tag of 5.4M is the lowest for any position except kicker.
Some in the group - potentially Hernandez - could try to claim they are wide receivers and not tight ends when that time comes (the tag for wideouts was 4M higher this year).
If the Patriots can get Gronkowski to extend his deal now, it sets them up to use their franchise tag in 2014 on Hernandez.
Meanwhile, you have to figure Wes Welker's camp watches this with interest. Not only are they hoping for an extension, they are wondering whether the Patriots would go back-to-back with the franchise tag on Welker in 2012 and 2013.
It's all a chess game.