Curran: Why Gronk's extension makes sense for him


Curran: Why Gronk's extension makes sense for him

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.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”