As unprecedented as it is for a player to get a new contract after 2 years in the league with 2 years left on his rookie deal, I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski has caught 132 passes for 1873 yards and 27 touchdowns in his first 2 years in the league, including 90 for 1327 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, and is also the league’s best blocking tight end.
He’s truly on every down tight end who never comes out of the game in any circumstance. He led all tight ends with 1120 snaps played last year, 39 more than any other tight end. For reference, only 5 tight ends played 1000+ snaps and only 11 even played 900+ snaps. He’s still only 23 and he’s well deserving of this 54 million dollar deal over 6 years, the most for a tight end all time.
In fact, the way tight ends are changing the game now, this deal could look like a bargain in 2-3 years time when it no longer becomes “taboo” for tight ends to demand to be paid like wide receivers. That’s why it makes so much sense that the Patriots locked him up now, rather than in a year or two. If Gronkowski were a receiver, someone with his production last year at his age probably would have commanded at least 10-12+ million dollars per year. Hell, Vincent Jackson is 6 years older and has never come close to what Gronkowski did last year and he still got 55.5 million over 5 years. And that’s just factoring in what Gronkowski does as a receiver, before even factoring in his blocking ability.