One of the more underrated personnel moves in Bill Belichick’s long tenure with the Patriots was signing Rob Gronkowski to a six-year, $54 million contract in the summer of 2012, just two years after Gronk was drafted.
At the time, some thought that was too much money to pay a player who still had two years left on his rookie deal, but it turned out to be a great deal for the Patriots, one that locked up the guy who turned out to be the second-most important player on the team in this decade for his prime years, at an affordable price.
In fact, it was so affordable for the Patriots that Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus went to the Pats and told them they had to adjust the deal to make it more fair. Rosenhaus said on PFT Live that while Gronk never complained about his contract, Rosenhaus wouldn’t have been doing his job if he had allowed Gronkowski to play out that full six-year deal without ever getting a raise, and the Patriots were always willing to make adjustments to keep a future Hall of Famer happy.
“We did Rob’s contract after his second year — that was very unique, what the Patriots did,” Rosenhaus said. “He wasn’t Rob Gronkowski the Hall of Famer after his second year, but we got a very lucrative extension. But we were always chasing the next contract because he was the best player. So I think we renegotiated his deal five times. One deal we got the Patriots to move money up, every other year we got them to add incentives, just like last year. So it seemed like I was perpetually renegotiating Rob’s contract with the Patriots, but they were great to work with. They recognized what a unique player he was and we were always able to go back to the table and work stuff out.”
Belichick has made his share of mistakes in the draft and free agency, but he’s excellent at evaluating his own players, knowing which ones to extend, which ones to trade, which ones to cut. Gronkowski was one the Patriots always wanted to extend, starting much earlier in his career than some teams would have.