New England Patriots tight endybecame the highest paid tight end in the history of the NFL on Friday.
Gronkowski and the Patriots agreed to a deal worth $55.23 million over six years, including $18.17 million guaranteed. The six-year deal is tacked on to the remaining two years on his rookie contract, which would've expired after the 2013 season.
The deal includes a $10 million bonus in 2016, a team option that comes as Gronkowski approaches his 27th birthday.
The yearly terms of his deal were not available, but a $9 million annual salary would surpass the contract of Seattle tight end Zach Miller, who is set to make $6.8 million in base salary in 2012. San Francisco's Vernon Davis will make $7.117 million in average salary. The Patriots recognized his value to the offense and his unconventional ability.
Gronkowski, who was a second-round pick in 2010, is still scheduled to earn base salaries of$540,000 in 2012 and $575,000 in 2013.
The former University of Arizona lineman was a breakout star last season. He set single-season records for tight ends, with 1,327 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns on 90 receptions.
His ankle injury in the AFC Championship Game last January was a major storyline during the Super Bowl two weeks later. One week after catching two passes for 26 yards in the Super Bowl loss, he had ankle surgery.