TODAY’S TOPIC: Gronk’s Harmless Tweet Sparks Memories of Past Disgruntled Players, and it’s Not Even Close.
It’s amazing to see how a tweet from a player can turn into such a big story, but Rob Gronkowski’s tweet on Monday following the news that the team was picking up his option has set off quite the media firestorm here in New England.
In the Tweet, the veteran tight end made light of his contract, clearly referring to the amounts he’s due over his final four seasons.
“If ya think about it that Option pick up basically equals pay cut the next 4 seasons . . . I don’t work hard for those reasons. Haha,” Gronk said in his Tweet Monday evening.
Most people took the tweet as Gronkowski making light of his contract, which looking strictly at base salaries, saw him earn $4.75 million in 2015. He’ll earn just $2.25 million in 2016, and $4.25 million in 2017, with both amounts obviously being less than what he made last season. His salaries escalate to $8 million in 2018, and $9 million in 2019.
But one point that Gronkowski tried to emphasize in his tweet was the fact he doesn’t play for the money. After experiencing what it was like to win it all in 2014 , that’s likely now his goal and one of the more important reasons he’s out there playing the way he does.
However, that hasn’t stopped the local media from jumping all over this story, wondering if quietly there’s a little resentment over a deal that seemingly favors the Patriots and has Gronkowski as a bargain compared to lesser-talented players.
One of the more notable stories came from the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, who wondered if there’s some truth behind Gronkowski’s joking statement.
Volin writes, “Is Gronkowski just making a harmless joke about being underpaid and stating that money isn’t a motivator? Or is he complaining about being underpaid? The hunch here is that there’s truth behind every joke, and that Gronkowski wouldn’t be making that statement if he weren’t just a little ticked off about his contract. No one speaks out against the Patriots unless they know exactly what they’re doing.”
Alex Reimer of Forbes.com echoes that same sentiment, writing, “In typical Gronk fashion, it’s difficult to pinpoint how serious he is. But salient points can be made in jest. Gronkowski has every reason to gripe about his salary, especially considering Colts tight end Dwayne Wallen, who caught just 12 passes last season, recently signed a new contract that will pay him $12 million in year one.”
The New York Post’s Dan Martin also jumped in, writing, ” Apparently, Rob Gronkowski just took a look at his contract — and he’s not happy with what he saw. The Patriots tight end is currently paying the price for choosing security early in his career over the chance to become an unrestricted free agent.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen contract disputes expressed publicly by either players or their agents, but it’s obviously happened. Here’s a quick rundown of three that come to mind right off the bat and are among the most memorable of the Belichick era:
LOGAN MANKINS: One of the more recent episodes happened with former offensive lineman Logan Mankins in 2011, whose final contract in New England was one of the more memorable fights between an agent and the team. Mankins’ agent, Frank Bauer, went after the Patriots and even went so far as to call what was being done to his client a “travesty”. That came after the team placed the franchise tag on him, which at the time was worth an impressive $10.1 million, which he initially didn’t sign. Eventually the team signed him to a 6-year deal.
TY LAW: Law was represented by the Poston Brothers, who effectively were part of the reason why the relationship between Law and the Patriots deteriorated back in 2004. With two years left on his deal, Law was looking for an extension that was an ugly process. After calling New England’s four-year, $26 million contract offer “an insult” and “a slap in the face”, negotiations seemingly broke off which set Law off. “They told me one thing and did another,” Law told the Globe via ESPN.com. “They said we were going to talk. All of a sudden, negotiations are off. ‘We’re just going to keep it the way it is for this year.’ No. It ain’t going to be ‘for this year.’ I don’t want no ‘just for this year.’ I don’t want no years at all. Actually, I don’t want a contract extension anymore because I no longer want to be a New England Patriot. I’m drop-dead serious about not wanting to be a part of this organization anymore.”
Some might remember Law’s comment about “we all gotta eat”. That came from this quote where he told the Globe, “I’ll go to training camp. I’ve got bonuses for going to training camp. I’m just saying it won’t be a comfortable working atmosphere. It’s not a reason to hold out. I get $1 million just to show up. Who wouldn’t show up for $1 million? The money ain’t the thing, because I have that. Then again, I’m not going to sit here and say I don’t want $7 million, either. That’s stupid. Hell, we all gotta eat.”
The two sides eventually smoothed things over and Law showed up started the season but suffered a broken bone in his foot against the Steelers in November of that season. He never put on the uniform again as the team went on to win their third Super Bowl Championship with Law forced to watch from the sidelines. He was released in February due to his massive $12.5 million cap number.
Terry Glenn: Glenn was another mess who was just a wasted talent. After receiving a six-year, $50 million contract extension in 2000 that included an $11.5 million signing bonus, Glenn basically imploded. In May of 2001 he was arrested for assaulting the mother and his child, and then tested positive for marijuana and left training camp on August 3rd after the NFL suspended him for four games for violating the terms of its substance-abuse program. The arrest led to the team withholding the remainder of his signing bonus. Glenn would return to play in one game that year, catching Tom Brady’s first career touchdown pass in a win on October 8th of that season. But Glenn claimed he suffered a hamstring injury, which led to the infamous ‘I D-I-D’ statement when asked, “Do you want to play for the New England Patriots?” on Sports Final that season where he said, “I know I’m bothered by a hamstring right now and I’m not getting paid, so you do the math.” He was suspended by the team shortly after and remained a spectator as the Patriots went on to win their first title. Glenn also reportedly didn’t receive a ring.
Rehashing those situations, it’s hard to ever imagine seeing something like that unfold with Gronkowski. To add to that fact, Tom Brady isn’t the highest paid quarterback in the game but his reputation has proven he’s more concerned with putting together a strong group that competes each year for a championship, even if it means taking less money. Knowing the admiration Gronkowski has for Brady, it’s obvious that he seems to have adopted that mindset.
Gronkowski has already made it clear that he hasn’t spent any of his NFL money and lives off his endorsements, which have kept him busy thus far this offseason. Being part of an organization like New England has likely helped in building his brand, and he’s been incredibly smart with his money. He’s also not a troublemaker, nor is he a guy who creates distractions for his team. He just comes in and works hard, which is all anyone could have ever hoped for from the former Arizona standout.
For now, Monday’s tweet shouldn’t amount to any more than just Gronk being Gronk. And behind the scenes, that same guy is also quietly spending his time getting ready to try and have another big season in 2016.
Today’s 5 Best Links:
1) Patriots picking up DT Alan Branch’s 400k bonus – Mike Reiss (ESPN) – Reiss reports that the Patriots picked up Branch’s $400k bonus, which will activate a second season for him in 2016.
2) PFW: Semi-realistic Patriots free agent wish list – Andy Hart (Patriots.com) – Hart looks at some options for the Patriots, and thinks a return for Benjamin Watson is among the possibilities.
3) Report: Patriots ‘Very Active’ At Minnesota Pro Day, Meet With Two Prospects – Doug Kyed (NESN) – Kyed notes that the Patriots met with a couple of players, including linebacker and a pass rusher at the the Gophers’ Pro Day.
4) Source: DB Tavon Wilson Moving on From Patriots After 4 Seasons – Ryan Hannable (WEEI) – Hannable reports on the former second round pick heading to the open market of free agency.
5) Patriots free agent outlook: Safety – Tom Curran (CSNNE) – Curran looks at the position and ponders some future offseason additions in this bit of analysis.
Broncos to sign Donald Stephenson – ProFootballTalk.com
REPORT: Broncos, Osweiler Haven’t Negotiated Since Team Made Opening Offer – ProFootballTalk.com
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“It’s just [about] getting better. Making sure I stay on top of my game as far as the skill set and also in the playbook, watching film, making sure I improve my game that way mentally. It’s all about just getting better and improving from year one to year two.” – Trey Flowers via the Providence Journal
SOCIAL POST OF THE DAY:
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown