Is Rob Gronkowski worth all the trouble?


Is Gronk worth it?

I know that question may draw the incredulous ire of the Pats Faithful, but it’s one that Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England Patriots organization should be asking themselves this offseason. While he has shown that he can be the premier tight end in the NFL when healthy, a string of injuries has held Gronkowski back from realizing his full potential. Multiple back, forearm, and knee surgeries have kept the Patriots’ playmaker off the field way too often and his yards, touchdowns, and receptions have dropped each of the last three seasons. Gronk missed the first month of 2013, but he played at an All-Pro level when he returned and transformed the Patriots’ offense into a scoring juggernaut until tearing his ACL and MCL at the hands (or helmet) of Cleveland’s T.J. Ward.

Everyone knows that Rob Gronkowski is an elite talent, freak athlete, and a blue-chip asset to any team lucky enough to have him. The question is whether or not the Pats should keep him under contract. After his record-breaking 2011 season, New England signed him to a six-year, $54 million extension that kept his rookie deal salary structure until after the 2013 season. In other words, Robert Kraft has been able to get a dominant player for dirt cheap up to the upcoming 2014 season, when Gronk’s salary will jump from $630,000 to $3.75 million. Each passing year that base salary will steadily increase, reaching $9 million in 2019, the last year of the contract. The larger issue that Gronk’s injury history raises is New England’s scary lack of depth at the tight end position. Even if Bill Belichick did have the stones to deal Gronk or cut him loose, the Pats’ next best option is Michael Hoomanawanui. After that, a couple of undrafted rookies and fullback James Develin are the remaining options that could be plugged in at tight end. Unless one of those guys develops quickly, the Patriots have no choice but to pray for a healthy Gronk.

I’m not suggesting that Gronkowski isn’t worth the value of his contract. There’s nobody better than him when he isn’t banged up, the Patriots’ offense is completely transformed when he’s on the field, and Tom Brady may just suffer a mental breakdown if he loses his star tight end one more time. Looking at the depth chart, it’s clear that Gronk is a precious commodity. However, if he keeps missing games due to injury, it’s hard to justify spending so much money to have him watch from the sidelines in a walking boot or arm cast. There’s no easy answer or solution here, but the Patriots should start trying to find one before they’re out $54 million and holding Invincible-style tryouts for tight ends.

What do you all think?

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  • marc greenberg

    It seem not having as that the Patriots had an opportunity to draft a potentially solid tight end this year, but passed on it. Knowing how fragile Gronkowski has become, why would they risk not having a possible true backup, and even a return to the Hernandez-Gronk double threat IF Gronk remains healthy? Doesn’t make sense why they would not grab the best talent available.

  • Sammy

    I’ve seen some pretty dumb comments in the article and the comments section. It has nothing to do with “stones” as the writer puts it that Belichick keeps Gronk. There isn’t a better option out there. Nobody can predict injuries. And the Patriots didn’t have an option to draft a decent TE in the first round, because their first pick was #29. The Pats needed a lot of other picks for other positional needs and it would be stupid for Belichick to trade up to get one player, only to sacrifice a bunch of other picks from this draft and future drafts. Eric Ebron was way to high for the Pats to trade up, Amaro has character issues and Fiedorowicz was also gone before the 29th pick, In other words, the Pats made the most of their picks and they will get a decent number of pics next year. Also, the Pats needed to add to Defense, because there are too many players coming back from injuries, so Belichick had to add depth there in the event they lose one of their defensive starters again. The Garopollo pick was a good move by Belichick, because he is a good QB and he can be molded into the type of QB Belichick wants before Brady has to retire. Ryan Mallet is not good enough to carry the Pats, so hopefully Brady can play 3 more years and by then Garopollo should be up-to-speed.

  • scott corbin

    I think rob’z effort has been max…he has been asked to fill more holes than he should have over the past few years….the patz contract structure reflects that….they are moving back to a defense first attack….and gronk will be a valu contributor as long as he is able….the current direction facilitates a ground def based attack…and tom’s eventual replacement….the grounddef first philosophy has brought winz in this leauge…there is only a small hedge the pats can’t do it this year or next giben current resources….watch them make it so!