EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It took longer than expected, but both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have now had their contracts tweaked before the 2018 season.
Gronkowski’s reportedly became official on Thursday when he got $4.3 million in incentives added to his deal for this season.
The tight end can earn $1 million in per-game roster bonuses and then a maximum of $3.3 million by hitting three of the following four incentives: $1.1 million for 70 or more catches, $1.1 million for 1,085 receiving yards, $1.1 million for 80 percent playing time, and $1.1 million for nine or more touchdown catches.
This was very similar to what was done with Brady’s contract, as he can earn up to $5 million in incentives.
Brady will receive a $1 million bonus this season for each top-five ranking he records in in five categories: QB rating, completion percentage, yards/attempt, touchdown passes, passing yards. Additionally, if the Patriots win Super Bowl LIII, each top-five finish will be worth $2 million rather than $1 million, though his total bonus still will be capped at $5 million.
While it may seem like a good thing the two players are getting more money, the money isn’t just added into their contracts — they need to be earned. And the way the incentives are set up, they aren’t exactly the easiest to achieve.
First off, for both players they cannot miss much time, if any at all. A few missed games could really impact them reaching the marks they need. Secondly, even if they do play the entire season, they need to have really good years.
Let’s start with Brady.
The 41-year-old won the MVP last year and still finished third in QB rating, fifth in completion percentage, fourth in yards per attempt, third in touchdown passes and first in passing yards. Being a year older and having a less talened group of wide outs certainly doesn't go in Brady’s favor.
And then with Gronkowski, it’s clear the Patriots based his incentives on last year's numbers.
In 2017, the tight end finished with 69 receptions for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns, which are one above or one below the totals needed to earn an extra $1.1 million for each category this year. Again, being a year older and having different players around him could prove difficult to reach all these.
These deals are absolutely wins for the Patriots.
For both players, it’s not even close to a guarantee they will hit the benchmarks needed for the incentives. And for players of this magnitude who have done so much for the franchise, shouldn’t at this stage of their careers all money be guaranteed?
When has a NFL team got the best player in the game to take an incentive-laden deal that still has him significantly underpaid, and then have the best tight in the game not paid like a receiver that he is?
These two players absolutely could have demanded more and made sure their money was guaranteed and not incentive-based, but once again the Patriots were able to work their magic.
So, while it may seem great Brady and Gronkowski got reworked contracts, they aren’t even close to player-friendly and proves once again Bill Belichick is running the show.