All-Pro Rob Gronkowski agreed Friday to a six-year, $54 million deal with the New England Patriots, the richest contract for a tight end in league history.
NEW YORK — All-Pro Rob Gronkowski agreed Friday to a $54 million deal with the New England Patriots, the richest contract for a tight end in league history.
The six-year deal includes $18.17 million guaranteed. It is a stunning move by the team for a player entering his third pro 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, who thanked owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick.
Gronkowski, 23, 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.
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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.
“He broke every record last year, and it’s just a remarkable story,” Gronkowski’s father, Gord, said.
Gronkowski, selected in the second round in 2010, had two more years left on his contract. New England added to his deal so Gronkowski will be with the team through the 2019 season.
Gord Gronkowski said big money won’t change his son.
“The money, it’s nice, don’t get me wrong, but it will not change him,” Gord said. “Rob will always be Rob the goofball.”
Owner says injured Suggs
will be paid in full
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs will get his entire $4.9 million salary in 2012 regardless of how he tore his Achilles tendon, team owner Steve Bisciotti said.
Suggs, 29, suffered the injury in April. He insists it happened while he was running through a conditioning drill, but several witnesses said he was hurt playing basketball in Arizona.
Bisciotti doesn’t care.
“I would be more upset if he hurt himself sleeping on the couch all offseason,” he said. “If our players are engaged in activities that get them in shape, then I’m proud of them for doing it.”
Suggs had surgery and hopes to be playing again sometime this season.
Under the collective-bargaining agreement, the Ravens could have elected to not pay Suggs entirely or reduce his salary if it was a nonfootball injury. But Bisciotti said cutting Suggs’ salary would not be good for team morale.
• A second arbitrator has ruled league commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to discipline New Orleans Saints players for their roles in a bounty program.
The players’ union claimed Goodell is prohibited from punishing players for any conduct before the collective-bargaining agreement was signed in August.
But arbitrator Shyam Das ruled Goodell is entitled to hand out the punishment and hear any appeals in the matter. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank ruled the same way Monday in a different grievance claim brought by the NFLPA, and the union said it would appeal.
• The San Diego Chargers have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with running back Ronnie Brown, 30, who played for Philadelphia last season after competing for the Miami Dolphins in his first six seasons.
• Linebacker Ben Leber, 33, said he is retiring after 10 seasons in the league. He played for San Diego and Minnesota before spending last season with the St. Louis Rams.