Rob Gronkowski is now technically under contract with the New England Patriots through the 2019 season. If that seems like a long time, it is. But the devil in the deal is in the details, and may make Gronkowski's deal one of the most team-friendly contracts in the NFL.
The Boston Globe reports that Gronkowski's deal has a maximum value of $55.1 million over its eight years, and the Globe's Greg Bedard tweets that the deal is essentially structured as two four-year deals: Gronkowski is under contract until 2016, when the Patriots have a team option to keep the tight end until 2019 or let him go.
Should Gronkowski keep performing at the level he reached in 2011 into the post-Tom Brady era in New England, that could mean this deal keeps one of the NFL's best receiving threats in a Patriots uniform at a relatively reasonable cost for a long time.
If the Patriots choose to cut ties with Gronk by declining that 2016 team option, however, they cannot franchise him, according to NFL Network's Albert Breer, meaning that Gronkowski will either hit free agency at 27 or have an NFL paycheck until he is 31.