Continue for updates.
Pats, Gronk in Early Stages of Contract Talks
Sunday, July 31
Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported a deal is "not imminent," though discussions are taking place.
Gronkowski, 27, signed a six-year, $54 million extension with the Patriots in 2012. At the time, the deal was the largest in history given to a tight end and remains the biggest in terms of total value. Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed and Julius Thomas currently eclipse Gronk in terms of average annual value.
The Patriots are under no real obligation to get a deal done. Gronkowski is under contract for the next four seasons, and his cap number doesn't even hit eight figures until 2018. Given his propensity for injuries and all-out style of play—he has not played in all 16 games since 2011—the best organizational move might be to just ride out his deal.
But that presents the possibility that Gronkowski could become unhappy.
There isn't anyone in football who questions Gronk's status as the best tight end in the sport. He has posted 1,000-plus yards each of the last two seasons and has posted double-digit touchdowns in five of his six NFL campaigns. Delanie Walker was the only player in his stratosphere last season, according to Pro Football Focus' grading system.
Gronkowski ranked as the sport's best pass-catcher, tied for the best run-blocker and was inside the top 20 in pass protection among players at his position. There are few better all-around players in the sport; his fellow players voted him as the ninth-best player in the league heading into 2016.
If he continues on this trajectory, Gronkowski might wind up being the best tight end in NFL history. He's the type of player you compensate regardless of how many years he has remaining on his contract.
The Patriots can likely find a way to extend Gronkowski, get him a ton of money up front and smooth his cap hits for 2018 and 2019—when it's possible they'll be in the midst of an organizational transition given Tom Brady's age.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.