2019 Gronk Watch: Pulling Strings from a Shell

CaptainLaddie

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FWIW: I have it under decent authority that Rob Gronkowski will "100% return next year".

Edit: I should also mention this source is the same guy who told me after the Gronk injury in Denver back in 15 that he was fine and wouldn't be out long.... he missed one game.
 
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SMU_Sox

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FWIW: I have it under decent authority that Rob Gronkowski will "100% return next year".
In the booth? I hope you’re right, Laddie. I certainly won’t begrudge him if he hangs them up though. Going out on top with another signature catch and big game... that’s pretty sweet. He made some comments about being beat up and how the NFL is a grind but maybe the millions of dollars and chance to chase even more glory wins out.
 

wiffleballhero

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"Delightfully gooberish" is a good line. So too is the bit about him not changing since fifth grade. I'll never forget his 'Mockingbird to Remember' line on Kimmel. That is gold!

Kimmel follows up with "University of Arizona graduate..." Well played.




On the one hand, my joy in watching this guy play football does not matter compared to him not destroying his body, but on the other hand, no matter when it ends, I'm going to be sad.
 

koufax32

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Just read the ESPN piece. Couldn’t help but notice he referred to his career in the past tense in the closing paragraph.
 

CaptainLaddie

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I'm sad if I'm wrong, but I don't doubt my friend. He and Gronk are close buddies and while it might be post-SB shock saying that, I believe my guy.
 

SumnerH

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I'm sad if I'm wrong, but I don't doubt my friend. He and Gronk are close buddies and while it might be post-SB shock saying that, I believe my guy.
Your guy’s probably accurately reflecting what Gronk said, but I doubt even Gronk knows for sure what his ultimate decision will be.
 

Red Averages

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Your guy’s probably accurately reflecting what Gronk said, but I doubt even Gronk knows for sure what his ultimate decision will be.
Bingo.
Ultimately, my guess would be that Brady tries to convince Gronk to come back for one more run at it, Gronk decides he doesn't want to lose the camaraderie with his teammates, and it'll come down to an agreement with BB that he'll be used more as a blocker to protect his health a bit, while still allowing him to be a force. He'll be used more in the passing game as the team needs, but it won't be him running over the middle consistently like he used to. In exchange, he may need to adjust the contract.
 

Super Nomario

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Bingo.
Ultimately, my guess would be that Brady tries to convince Gronk to come back for one more run at it, Gronk decides he doesn't want to lose the camaraderie with his teammates, and it'll come down to an agreement with BB that he'll be used more as a blocker to protect his health a bit, while still allowing him to be a force. He'll be used more in the passing game as the team needs, but it won't be him running over the middle consistently like he used to. In exchange, he may need to adjust the contract.
I'd love to see them draft a TE high (first or second round) and use that to help manage Gronk's pitch count. He played almost every snap in every game he was active for until Week 16/17; then they spelled him more the last two weeks. Maybe he goes from a 99% player to a 70% player, dialing it up more in big games / close games. I don't think it's an accident he looked better in the playoffs, after a bye and the extra Super Bowl week.
 

joe dokes

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Bingo.
Ultimately, my guess would be that Brady tries to convince Gronk to come back for one more run at it, Gronk decides he doesn't want to lose the camaraderie with his teammates, and it'll come down to an agreement with BB that he'll be used more as a blocker to protect his health a bit, while still allowing him to be a force. He'll be used more in the passing game as the team needs, but it won't be him running over the middle consistently like he used to. In exchange, he may need to adjust the contract.
This may be dead-on, but as a practical matter, at least some of it depends how long it takes for him to feel "normal" (whatever that is) after an indisputably difficult season on his body.
 

Van Everyman

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I keep wondering if, somewhat like Brady, he wasn’t falling off some cliff but just hurt for most of this year. I mean, last season he was completely vintage and his usual unstoppable self – and was pretty close to that during this year’s playoff run.

Is it possible he’s “no longer in his prime”? Sure – maybe even likely. And it’s clear the physical toll is at least becoming a mental hurdle for him, which is not insignificant. But given that this article says he was dealing with a bulging disc and Achilles inflammation (not merely “ankle injuries” as previously reported), I’d still want to see him play another season at this year’s diminished level before declaring Gronk as “broken” as some kind of fact.
 

drbretto

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Has Gronk ever initiated the conversation about his retirement? I got the impression last year that he didn't and was just playing into it.

I think he's at least back next year to keep this core going. He seems to be enjoying himself and he's got a solid shot at 4 rings.
 

Super Nomario

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Gronk finished 6th among TE in receiving yards despite missing three games. He had almost 900 yards counting his three playoff games. That ain't 2011 Gronk but it's still very good.
 

Mystic Merlin

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I'd love to see them draft a TE high (first or second round) and use that to help manage Gronk's pitch count. He played almost every snap in every game he was active for until Week 16/17; then they spelled him more the last two weeks. Maybe he goes from a 99% player to a 70% player, dialing it up more in big games / close games. I don't think it's an accident he looked better in the playoffs, after a bye and the extra Super Bowl week.
Yeah, exactly.

Only catch here is his contract. Is Bill paying Gronk 10m to play half the regular season snaps? I think that’s a resounding ‘no.’ And will Gronk take a pay cut in return for a pitch count? I don’t know.

I think both sides might reasonably conclude that this can’t work.
 

tims4wins

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Gronk's 3 playoff games would project to 101 catches in a 16 game season. He's never caught 100 passes before. Cliff!
 

joe dokes

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I keep wondering if, somewhat like Brady, he wasn’t falling off some cliff but just hurt for most of this year. I mean, last season he was completely vintage and his usual unstoppable self – and was pretty close to that during this year’s playoff run.

Is it possible he’s “no longer in his prime”? Sure – maybe even likely. And it’s clear the physical toll is at least becoming a mental hurdle for him, which is not insignificant. But given that this article says he was dealing with a bulging disc and Achilles inflammation (not merely “ankle injuries” as previously reported), I’d still want to see him play another season at this year’s diminished level before declaring Gronk as “broken” as some kind of fact.
A big factor, though, is that Gronk is in a car wreck in 90% of the plays he's in. Even if his achilles heals (so sue me!) he has a bad back history and discs don't un-bulge. Brady actually heals.
 

Super Nomario

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Yeah, exactly.

Only catch here is his contract. Is Bill paying Gronk 10m to play half the regular season snaps? I think that’s a resounding ‘no.’ And will Gronk take a pay cut in return for a pitch count? I don’t know.

I think both sides might reasonably conclude that this can’t work.
I think even at 2018 levels Gronk is a reasonable deal at $10 MM or even the almost $12 MM he's slated to earn, and then you just think about using that asset responsibly. They didn't get vintage Gronk for the regular season but he was absolutely vital in the playoffs. Less workload might help him navigate the long season better, and hopefully you get a similar playoff performance.

I wouldn't want to sit Gronk half, but he was at 79% this year, leading all Patriots skill players, despite missing three games. 74% in the regular season. I think you dial that back to 65-70%. It's not unheard of. Eric Ebron this year played like 55% of snaps. Put in a package for the young guy(s), give Gronk a couple series off a game, keep him in for key situations (two-minute drill, etc.), give him more of a breather in blowouts, and hopefully you get 14-16 games and a healthy playoff Gronk. And if you have young TEs, you also have the added benefit of getting them more exposure.

It's worth noting: they couldn't really do this this year because they renegotiated Gronk's salary to have a lot of incentives and benching him would have been cheating him of the opportunity to reach those incentives.

Also worth noting: there is a ton of cap space available around the league this offseason. Contracts are probably going to get really stupid. $12 MM for Gronk at this stage sounds like a lot; it might not sound like that much six weeks from now.
 

wiffleballhero

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It is also worth noting that this seems to go against type for Belichick, pretty radically.

He tends to not want guys to, you know, eat off the post game buffet if they are not going to play. It is hard to see Belichick really getting behind a plan that so explicitly violates the one-game-at-a-time model.
 

joe dokes

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It is also worth noting that this seems to go against type for Belichick, pretty radically.

He tends to not want guys to, you know, eat off the post game buffet if they are not going to play. It is hard to see Belichick really getting behind a plan that so explicitly violates the one-game-at-a-time model.
[equivocation alert] On one hand this is undeniably true. But on the other, Belichick regularly breaks molds when appropriate. Develin and Allen routinely play fewer than 50% of the snaps and get heaps of praise. Of course Gronk money would be insane, comparatively, but I wouldn't rule out a reduced role of they could cut a deal.
 

Van Everyman

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Gronk finished 6th among TE in receiving yards despite missing three games. He had almost 900 yards counting his three playoff games. That ain't 2011 Gronk but it's still very good.
2011 Gronk ended the year incapable of grabbing a tipped Hail Mary that would've won the Super Bowl because of a busted wheel. I'll take Bubble Wrap Regular Season 2019 Gronk over that any day.
 

tims4wins

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2011 Gronk ended the year incapable of grabbing a tipped Hail Mary that would've won the Super Bowl because of a busted wheel. I'll take Bubble Wrap Regular Season 2019 Gronk over that any day.
At least he was on the field for a hail mary and not a lateral play

Too soon?
 

Super Nomario

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It is also worth noting that this seems to go against type for Belichick, pretty radically.

He tends to not want guys to, you know, eat off the post game buffet if they are not going to play. It is hard to see Belichick really getting behind a plan that so explicitly violates the one-game-at-a-time model.
Belichick has made exceptions in the past. Roman Phifer used to fly to LA and back during game weeks. And Gronk is the kind of guy you make an exception for - maybe the second-best player of the entire dynasty, has an extensive injury history, has sacrificed his body for the team.

Two other things to look at:
1) If they replace Gronk, they are probably not going to find a true two-way TE who can play 100% of snaps during games. Many teams do not play their TEs wire-to-wire. So would you have you rather have two more limited guys that you have to mix and match, or Gronk with a managed pitch count and fill in the other ~30% as needed?
2) It's not dissimilar to how they use players at other positions. Look at Trey Flowers. He played 73% of defensive snaps this season, including the playoffs. It's typical that he would get a few series off; it's typical that DL rotate a bit. In a lot of weeks he played about 2/3 of snaps. But a big game? In there just about every snap. He went wire-to-wire in the AFCCG and played every snap but four in the Super Bowl. It makes a ton of sense to me to use Gronk in a similar fashion.
 

NortheasternPJ

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Belichick has made exceptions in the past. Roman Phifer used to fly to LA and back during game weeks. And Gronk is the kind of guy you make an exception for - maybe the second-best player of the entire dynasty, has an extensive injury history, has sacrificed his body for the team.

Two other things to look at:
1) If they replace Gronk, they are probably not going to find a true two-way TE who can play 100% of snaps during games. Many teams do not play their TEs wire-to-wire. So would you have you rather have two more limited guys that you have to mix and match, or Gronk with a managed pitch count and fill in the other ~30% as needed?
2) It's not dissimilar to how they use players at other positions. Look at Trey Flowers. He played 73% of defensive snaps this season, including the playoffs. It's typical that he would get a few series off; it's typical that DL rotate a bit. In a lot of weeks he played about 2/3 of snaps. But a big game? In there just about every snap. He went wire-to-wire in the AFCCG and played every snap but four in the Super Bowl. It makes a ton of sense to me to use Gronk in a similar fashion.
Ted Johnson was talking about this after the Super Bowl about Gronk how in order for Bill to get Phifer to keep playing, he guaranteed that Phifer never had to show up before Wednesday. I know BB is all about the team and standard etc. but I'm not sure anyone in that locker room would bitch about Gronk getting extra rest to play one more year.
 

Adrian's Dome

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Watching that makes me think he comes back.
Watching Brady's post-SB vid with him and Gronk geeking it up and Gronk nodding his head while making faces after juggling his arms like he was trying to make a decision convinced me he's coming back.
 
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Whether or not he comes back, I have a hard time imagining that, in the surprise Jimmy G phone call to the 49ers (who took all of 10 minutes to accept the offer), if Bill had said, "Gimme a 2nd round pick AND GEORGE KITTLE," that they would've said no. Wouldn't mind that transition from Gronk to a young TE.

Oh well. A guy can dream...

Edit typo
 

Red Averages

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Gronk threatened to retire last year if traded. I'd put 99% odds on the same this year...
 

CaptainLaddie

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I'm telling you guys, he's coming back. My bud has been good friends with the Gronk crew since, jeez, 2011 (he also attended Kraft's party with the Gronks, fwiw)? I almost believe Gronk made up his mind before last Sunday. I do think it's his last year (haven't asked that question), but I find it hard to believe he walks away from $10-12M. Maybe the Pats do, but that's the only way Gronk retires.
 

Ed Hillel

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I'm telling you guys, he's coming back. My bud has been good friends with the Gronk crew since, jeez, 2011 (he also attended Kraft's party with the Gronks, fwiw)? I almost believe Gronk made up his mind before last Sunday. I do think it's his last year (haven't asked that question), but I find it hard to believe he walks away from $10-12M. Maybe the Pats do, but that's the only way Gronk retires.
Gronk could make that much in Hollywood, though, and not maybe die. I’m not saying I don’t believe your source, but Gronk is made from here on out whether he plays football or not.

Also, I just paid for a SB auto of his that says “3X SB Champ” and Imma be pissed if that becomes obsolete (not really, I have a deal where it reverts to the cheaper version without the inscription if he comes back).
 

CaptainLaddie

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Could he, though? He's not a good actor -- really. He's not making that in the WWE or through endorsements. I dunno. I just think he's done after this next year, he'll get into the HOF on his first year, and can always try doing Hollywood in 2020.
 

SumnerH

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Gronk could make that much in Hollywood, though
No way. Gina Carano pulls down maybe $750,000 a year between multiple movies, and she's a lot more bankable than Gronk. And that's after working her way up into Fast and Furious/Deadpool type roles.

And she started off about as giftwrapped as you can as an athlete entering Hollywood, with a starring role in a Stephen Soderbergh-directed film (Haywire) that was custom-written for her, starring Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, etc. Even then she was only making about $200k for that at the time.

Gronk would be lucky to get a similar entry deal, and if his acting is as expected he'll be completely out of the business pretty quickly.
 

Ale Xander

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No way. Gina Carano pulls down maybe $750,000 a year between multiple movies, and she's a lot more bankable than Gronk. And that's after working her way up into Fast and Furious/Deadpool type roles.

And she started off about as giftwrapped as you can as an athlete entering Hollywood, with a starring role in a Stephen Soderbergh-directed film (Haywire) that was custom-written for her, starring Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, etc. Even then she was only making about $200k for that at the time.

Gronk would be lucky to get a similar entry deal, and if his acting is as expected he'll be completely out of the business pretty quickly.
I don;t think you can compare the two. Not many people who don't follow MMA or "read" Maxim had heard of Gina. Plus there's still sexism in Hollywood.

Gronk is more famous and bankable than she is.

With that said, Gronk doesn't (at least yet) have the acting chops to get roles as significant as hers. And I doubt Grnk even has the desire to try and get significant roles. He'll make plenty (for him, he doesn't spend much compared to other athletes) with endorsements that he doesn't have to do real acting for
 

SumnerH

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I don;t think you can compare the two. Not many people who don't follow MMA or "read" Maxim had heard of Gina. Plus there's still sexism in Hollywood.

Gronk is more famous and bankable than she is
This is completely wrong, IMO. Carano was famous beyond MMA to a huge extent—I don't follow MMA or Maxim, but even for me she was all over the place before she started acting. (Wiki claims she was the third most-searched person (not just female or athlete) on Yahoo in 2008, and one of the fastest-rising on Google (and on the cover of ESPN and other non-Maxim magazines)).

As far as acting goes, she had an obvious charisma that Gronk doesn't; he's largely seen as a frat bro/meathead, while she was famous well beyond what her athletic achievements would warrant because of her acting-adjacent skills (not just appearance, but charisma).

It's also a rare case where Hollywood's sexism worked in her favor, as well.

Gronk certainly might make more money than her based on endorsements, but he's absolutely not rolling in to Hollywood and making $10-12 million/year.
 

drleather2001

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Nobody outside of New England is paying money to see Rob Gronkowski star in a movie, and those people aren’t doing it more than once unless he can actually act, which is highly unlikely. He could probably get a couple of 5th-listed parts in some crappy bro movies but that’s not earning him a ton of cash.

How many ex athletes have had sustained success in Hollywood? OJ Simpson? Jim Brown? They were more than doofuses (in a bad way, as far as the former is concerned).
 

johnmd20

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I don;t think you can compare the two. Not many people who don't follow MMA or "read" Maxim had heard of Gina. Plus there's still sexism in Hollywood.

Gronk is more famous and bankable than she is.

With that said, Gronk doesn't (at least yet) have the acting chops to get roles as significant as hers. And I doubt Grnk even has the desire to try and get significant roles. He'll make plenty (for him, he doesn't spend much compared to other athletes) with endorsements that he doesn't have to do real acting for
Gronk couldn't make 12 million dollars in Hollywood in his first few years. If he ever is able to accomplish that, he'll have to have a career like The Rock or Jason Statham and prove he can open movies that make money. This would take a long time.

And the issue is, The Rock and Statham are solid actors. It would take a lot of work for Gronk to be able to do the same. And he's not going into the WWE. His body has had enough surgeries, I cannot imagine he would want to deal with the pounding required in WWE. Phrasing.
 

shoosh77

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His best bet for after market stuff is:
Host parties in Vegas
Some kind of E! travel show either being fish out of water in exotic locale or best party spots
Kids/tween programs like the crashletes show
 

BigSoxFan

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Gronk couldn't make 12 million dollars in Hollywood in his first few years. If he ever is able to accomplish that, he'll have to have a career like The Rock or Jason Statham and prove he can open movies that make money. This would take a long time.

And the issue is, The Rock and Statham are solid actors. It would take a lot of work for Gronk to be able to do the same. And he's not going into the WWE. His body has had enough surgeries, I cannot imagine he would want to deal with the pounding required in WWE. Phrasing.
Agreed. I think his only real option is reality tv where he teams up with other C-list celebrities for whatever dumb contest the show is about. I would be really surprised if he ever had a career that approached even early stage The Rock. That guy is a natural entertainer.
 

johnmd20

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Agreed. I think his only real option is reality tv where he teams up with other C-list celebrities for whatever dumb contest the show is about. I would be really surprised if he ever had a career that approached even early stage The Rock. That guy is a natural entertainer.
And calling The Rock and Statham solid is an understatement. Both have quite a presence in their movies and have charisma for days. Statham in Spy is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Doing what they do isn't easy, Gronk isn't going to wake up and be that.

It'll take years. But he can do it, it just won't be immediate. And he plays next year, banking another 12 million would be immediate. The odds are VERY low Gronk is going to die on a football field next year.
 

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Nobody outside of New England is paying money to see Rob Gronkowski star in a movie, and those people aren’t doing it more than once unless he can actually act, which is highly unlikely. He could probably get a couple of 5th-listed parts in some crappy bro movies but that’s not earning him a ton of cash.
He wouldn't have a national TV commercial if there weren't some national interest.