The New England Patriots steamrolled the New York Jets on Sunday, but Rob Gronkowski wasn’t part of the offensive effort … and as a result, Gronk narrowly missed out on a $2 million on-field performance bonus.
Gronkowski had a series of in-game performance bonuses that would have paid him $5.5 million. He clinched the initial $3.5 million by passing 1,000 yards receiving; he had 1,084 coming into Sunday. But in order to trigger the additional $2 million, he needed to total at least 11 catches or 116 yards. (Other incentives for playing time and total touchdowns were already out of reach.)
His totals for Sunday: 0 catches, 0 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 additional incentive dollars. Ouch.
The numbers were large but not unrealistic; Gronkowski had matched the yardage total in three games this season, and had been targeted at least 11 times on four occasions. But the Jets did something many other teams inexplicably don’t: they double-teamed Gronkowski and forced Tom Brady to look elsewhere to beat them. (Spoiler: he did.)
Worth noting: Gronkowski missed one game in Week 14 after diving at the Buffalo Bills’ Tre’Davious White. There’s no guarantee Gronk would have hit the numbers even with that extra game, but that self-inflicted penalty might have ended up costing Gronkowski $2 million.
Gronkowski still has a chance to nab the bonus if he’s named to the All-Pro first team. But he’ll face substantial competition from Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, whose 83 receptions/1,038 yards/8 touchdowns stack up hard against Gronk’s 69/1,084/8.
On the plus side, Gronkowski did finish the season with those 69 receptions, which is nice. And yes, he took notice of it.
I asked Gronk if he knew how many catches he had this season:
Smirked, “Yeah, 69.”
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) December 31, 2017