All-Pro Rob Gronkowski has agreed to a $54 million deal with the New England Patriots, the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history.
The six-year deal includes $18.17 million guaranteed. It is a stunning move by the team for a player entering just his third NFL season, but the Patriots recognized the game-breaking skills of the record-setting Gronkowski.
''This is a rare deal,'' said Drew Rosenhaus, Gronkowski's agent. ''Thanks to Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick.''
Gronkowski set a league record for the position with 17 touchdown catches in 2011. He also had a record 1,327 yards, and made 90 receptions.
Gronkowski is coming off left ankle surgery, an injury that slowed him in New England's loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.