By: Jake Mackey
Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reported Sunday after Patriots practice that the team and Rob Gronkowski are apparently working on a new contract.
My reaction to seeing this earlier was mixed to say the least. Obviously I want to see Rob Gronkowski in a Patriots uniform for as long as possible. He is arguably the second best player in the history of the franchise in terms of sheer skill set. His importance to the team’s success is unmatched to that of only Tom Brady.
However, there are more important issues at hand right now when it comes to contract negotiations on the Patriots, and giving Gronkowski a new deal now may cause for some tension between the two sides of the locker room.
Much has been made this off season of the, “big three”on the Patriots roster that will be free agents in March of 2017. Those three are; Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, and Dont’a Hightower. Nevertheless, there are other names on the defensive side of the ball who will be looking for new deals this coming March as well. Names such as Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan, Jabaal Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, and Terrance Knighton along with others.
Bill Belichick started rebuilding this defense after their horrendous 2011 campaign, and now they have emerged as one the top units in the league with primarily home grown talent. Of course, the time is nearing for those players to get paid.
With so much riding on this season for so many players on the Patriots defense, who is to say that some of them may start acting a tad bit selfish. I have heard this sentiment over the sports talk radio airwaves over the past couple of months, and I have scoffed at it. Now, if Rob Gronkowski were to ink a new deal during this training camp that would make him the highest paid tight end in the game, selfishness among defensive players could for sure start to creep in.
Giving Gronkowski a new deal before taking care of any of the defensive stars seems to be showing a bit of favoritism to the offensive side of the ball. Most of those players already cash out. Tom Brady is underpaid compared to the rest of the quarterback market, but he did receive a nice 28-million dollar signing bonus this past March on his new contract. In addition, Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder are two of the more highly paid offensive tackles in the game.
The only player on the defensive side of the ball who is under a high-paying long-term contract is safety Devin McCourty.
The Patriots offense has been the life blood of the franchises success since 2007. However, they were not able to win a Super Bowl after 2004 until 2014 when they finally had a legitimate defense. There was a long stretch of time where it was players such as Sergio Brown, Jonathan Wilhite, and Julian Edelman in the Patriots secondary.
It was not Rob Gronkowski tackling Marshawn Lynch with one functioning shoulder at the one-yard line in Super Bowl XLIX, and it was not him intercepting Russell Wilson on the next play. As the old adage goes, “offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.” In today’s NFL you more often than not need a balance between the two, but as Patriots fans have found out you certainly need the defense to finish the job, and they could have that type of defense for a long-time if Bill Belichick decides to pay up. Thus far, zero progress has been made on that front.