New England Patriots' decision to let Rob Gronkowski leave for Tampa Bay Buccaneers left most Patriots fans scratching their heads. The three-time Super Bowl winner opted to come out of retirement ahead of the 2020 season. However, instead of playing for the Patriots, the tight end will now reunite with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. The latest report indicates the Patriots did not have a whole lot of choice in the Rob Gronkowski traded development.
Rob Gronkowski signed a six-year contract extension worth a reported $54 million with the Patriots in 2012. However, due to his retirement after the 2018 season, Patriots had the rights for Gronkowski should he decide to come out of retirement at any time. However, the decision would mean the Patriots would be forced to take a massive hit in the salary cap ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft. Per reports, the Patriots salary cap stood at a mere $1 million which made it difficult for them to keep Gronkowski on their books.
Regarding the Gronk trade terms, the Patriots really didn't have much leverage. If Gronk signed his papers to unretire, he would have been on the books for a $12M cap hit for a team that only had about $1M in space.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) April 21, 2020
*$10 million cap hit. It would have been $12M if he played in 2019, which was where I was looking in the contract document, but the retirement created $2M in dead money last year, leaving $10M this year.— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) April 21, 2020
For a star returning after a one-year hiatus, taking a $10 million cap hit reportedly proved too risky for the Patriots. Bill Belichick and co, therefore, were left with no choice but to let Gronkowski reunite with Tom Brady at Tampa Bay. The Patriots received only a fourth-round draft pick in exchange for Gronkowski and a seventh-round draft pick, which suggests Buccaneers did well to capitalise on the situation to sign the tight end for the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers had to take the $10 million hit in cap space in order to sign Rob Gronkowski. Bucs reportedly entered the 2020 offseason with around $80 million in cap space. However, acquiring Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and other players means that the Bucs will be left with just around $5 million in cap space ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Rob Gronkowski will reportedly earn as much as $10 million while playing for the Buccaneers in the 2020 season. The 30-year-old will make $9 million guaranteed and an additional $1 million through workout bonuses. The returning Gronkowski will now be the fourth-highest earning tight end in the NFL behind the likes of Eagles’ Zach Ertz, Chiefs’ Travis Kelce and Chargers' Hunter Henry.
Rob Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirms that the 30-year-old tight end has agreed to play for the Bucs in 2020 and will honor his current contract. He's due to make $10 million in 2020 after coming out of retirement.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) April 21, 2020