When throwing a dart during Super Bowl LII regarding the possibility of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski retiring after the game, it was couched as a 99-percent wild guess. The one-percent came from three different things that has been heard on the Minnesota grapevine in the days preceding the game.
First, Gronkowski never had been hit in the head the way he’d been hit by Jaguars safety Barry Church during the AFC title game. Second, it took him a while to pass the tests necessary to get clearance to play. Third, one or more family members have been pushing him to hang it up.
Gronk definitely doesn’t need the money; he still hasn’t spent a dime that he has made playing football, living instead off of his marketing revenue. Maybe his willingness to keep playing ultimately hinges on how much more money the Patriots are willing to pay.
In 2017, the team gave him a $5.5 million incentive package, and he earned every penny of it, pushing his total compensation for the year to $10 million. For 2018, he’s due to make $8.25 million — but the $5.5 million in extra pay from 2017 will push his cap number over $16 million.
He’d owe nothing to the team if he retires, since he has earned the full amount of his signing bonus. The question becomes whether he’s willing to keep putting himself in harm’s way for another $8 million gross, and whether there’s a number above $8 million that: (1) the Patriots would be willing to pay; and (2) would entice him to stay.
Gronk surely has more money saved than he could ever spend. Given his persona, he could make plenty of additional money just being Gronk. The real question may be how much additional money he would need to continue to take the kind of pounding that has resulted in more surgeries than Cavity Sam and, most recently, a concussion that may cause him to take head injuries far more seriously than he did during a 2017 appearance on PFT Live.