When you look at the guts of Rob Gronkowski's six-year, 54 million extension as detailed by Mike Florio, a couple of things jump out right away as to why Gronk took the bait now rather than wait to hit free agency after 2013.
The first is that, over the next four years, Gronkowski will make 18.23 million guaranteed.
Since he was due to make 1.1 million over the next two seasons and then could have been in line for two seasons of franchise tagging at (ballpark) about 12 million, Gronkowski is sparing himself the drama and the headaches. He's also ensuring himself 18 million instead of about 13.1 million.
Any Patriot with a little bit of awareness can see that, when the Patriots have the hammer, they will use it. Whether it's Wes Welker, Logan Mankins, Deion Branch, Vince Wilfork or Tom Brady, if you don't like their terms, you will be franchised.
Gronkowski has guaranteed that he won't have to trust that the Patriots do the right thing.
In signing this extension, though, Gronkowski is trading the chance to make top dollar in exchange for security. He will play the next two years on his rookie deal (with modest salary raises), then be under contract through 2019 when he'll be 30 years old. There is an option the Patriots face in 2016, according to Florio: The team can spend 10 million and pick up the final four years of his deal.
So it's really two deals -- a two-year extension to his rookie deal and another four-year deal worth about 37 million.
The other interesting aspect of this deal has roots in something Robert Kraft said earlier this offseason. Traditionally, veteran salaries have risen dramatically in the NFL since 2006. And this offseason was an example of that, especially at the wideout position. But Kraft indicated that salary growth will be slow and steady in coming years.
There's been much debate as to whether Kraft's prediction is accurate but -- given the man's business acumen -- I'd tend to believe he's mostly accurate.
So that's worth remembering as well when folks question whether Gronkowski is leaving significant money on the table by signing now.
And money is likely being left on the table. Agreeing to be under Patriots control through 2019 for 55-million (including the remaining salaries on his deal), means Gronk is going to make less than 7 million per season. And Jermichael Finley signed a two-year, 14 million extension with the Packers this offseason. So salaries will have to remain completely flat for Gronk to still be at market value in 2019.
Other dynamics are caused by this signing. For instance, Aaron Hernandez -- whose rookie deal expires in 2014 -- may be in line for the franchise tag down the road. And that will lead to a discussion of whether he's a tight end or wide receiver.
Also, Wes Welker sees cash go out while he waits for his own extension. But that's much less significant when one sees Gronk signing through 2019.
Finally, it's worth wondering how strident the Patriots were in stressing to Gronkowski that he has to be a little more cautious in his personal life.
Nobody's having a better time than Gronk. But the more he's out there -- and now with a lot more money to burn -- the greater the chance innocent fun in a bar, dance club or poolside goes awry.
In other words, don't go changin' Gronk. But bring a chaperone.