Gronkowski gets $54M deal from Patriots

Gronkowski gets $54M deal from Patriots

Published Jun. 8, 2012 12:19 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- All-Pro Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots agreed Friday to a $54 million deal, the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history.

The six-year deal includes $18.17 million guaranteed. It is a stunning deal for a player entering just his third NFL season, but the Patriots recognized the game-breaking skills of the record-setting Gronkowski, a product of the University of Arizona.

"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 posted 90 receptions, although he is coming off left ankle surgery for an injury that slowed him in the Patriots' loss to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

"He broke every record last year, and it's just a remarkable story," Gronkowski's father, Gord, said Friday. "And you know, there in Arizona we didn't know if he was going to play anymore when he had his back surgery. And now, it's a great story. He's out there now and everything's well and he's ripping it up."

Gronkowski, selected in the second round in 2010, had two more years left on his contract. New England added on to his rookie deal to ensure that Gronkowski will be with the team through the 2019 season.

The 23-year-old Gronkowski was virtually uncoverable while healthy last season. He combined with fellow second-year tight end Aaron Hernandez and slot receiver Wes Walker -- the league's leading pass catcher -- to help New England go 13-3 and score an AFC-high 513 points.

Gord Gronkowski said the big money won't change his son in the least.

"No, Rob is Rob. He still to this day will wear jeans that he had in high school and shirts that he had in high school," he said. "We're not flashy people. And that's Rob all the way.

"The money -- it's nice, don't get me wrong, but it will not change him. Rob will always be Rob the goofball."