One of the reasons Gronkowski slipped to the Patriots in the second round in 2010 was that he missed the entire 2009 season at the University of Arizona after he had surgery to shave a protruding disk in his lower back.
Some teams took Gronkowski off their draft boards.
The Patriots gambled on Gronkowski’s body, and it has paid off.
But there is also a reason that the team built a $10 million option bonus into the $55-million contract extension Gronkowski signed last June. The bonus, due in 2016, triggers the final four years of the eight-year agreement the Patriots have with Gronk. That’s where the big money in the deal is. The first four years of the deal are really more like a four-year, approximately $18.6 million contract.
The Patriots protected themselves. Gronkowski doesn’t have that luxury.
When healthy, Gronkowski is the best all-around tight end in the game.
But how often Gronk can remain healthy could be the key to his career.
Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.