Analyzing a Gronkowski renegotiation

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Analyzing a Gronkowski renegotiation

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.

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Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

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Arizona Cardinals place franchise tag on Chandler Jones

PHOENIX - The Arizona Cardinals, in an anticipated move, have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Chandler Jones after failing to reach a long-term deal with the player.

The non-exclusive tag allows the Cardinals to continue negotiating with Jones through July 15. If another team makes him an offer, Arizona can either match it or receive two first-round draft picks.

It's unlikely that any team would express interest in Jones, however, given what it would cost.

Under the franchise tag, Jones would receive about $15 million for the coming season.

Acquired in a trade with New England a year ago, Jones had 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 15 tackles for loss last season

Jones has 25 1-2 sacks over the past two seasons, third-most in the NFL over that span.

The Cardinals' move came two days before the NFL deadline for making franchise designations.

It also came on Jones' 27th birthday, prompting teammate David Johnson to tweet "Happy BDay to `The Man,' `Mr. Franchise' himself.....The one and only."

The franchise tag move came as no surprise.

Club President Michael Bidwill has stated all along that Jones would not be going anywhere, that the team didn't make the trade - sending guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round draft pick to New England - to keep him just for one season.

"We're not going to mess around with that," Bidwill said in a recent interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He's a great pass rusher, but if we can't agree to terms that work for us, we're just going to franchise him, and his people know that."

Jones immediately upgraded what had been an average Cardinals pass rush at best. His fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden had 12 1-2 sacks and seven tackles for loss. Together they form one of the better outside pass rush combinations in the NFL.

By all accounts, the contract talks with Jones have been cordial and Jones has said he wants to stay in Arizona.

"I love it here," he said near the end of last season. "I love the vibe that the people give off and I can see myself being here for a long time."

Chandler heads a long list of free agents that the Cardinals must either re-sign or let go. That group includes starters defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Tony Jefferson and inside linebacker Kevin Minter.