For the second straight year, the Patriots gave tight end Rob Gronkowski a contractual adjustment that hinges exclusively on playing and producing. Which means that, if he can’t play and/or produce, he won’t make the money.
The news that Gronk didn’t fly with his teammates to Chicago and could miss Sunday’s game against the Bears due to ankle and/or back injury will impact his earnings, in two ways. First, he won’t earn this week’s $62,500 installment toward a $1 million roster bonus premised on being on the active roster for every game. Second, he’ll have a harder time reaching the thresholds for his $3.3 million incentive package.
He can make the $3.3 million by hitting any three of these four performance triggers: 80 percent playing time; 70 catches; 1,085 receiving yards; and/or nine touchdowns.
Gronkowski currently is on pace for just under 70 catches and just under 1,085 receiving yards. He has only one touchdown through six games.
To fall below 80-percent playing time, Gronkowski would have to miss several games. But if he just misses one or two games he may hit only the playing-time incentive, making $1.1 million but leaving $2.2 million on the table.
It’s unclear how Gronkowsk was injured; late in Sunday’s 43-40 win over the Chiefs, Gronkowski made a game-deciding catch to put the Patriots in chip-shot field goal range.