Gronkowski, Patriots agree to incentive-laden contract restructure

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Despite being limited to only eight games last NFL season, Rob Gronkowski has a chance to break the bank with the New England Patriots in 2017.

Gronkowski's agent Drew Rosenhaus revealed the tight end has agreed to a unique restructured contract for the upcoming season, giving him chance to top Jimmy Graham's $10million salary to become highest paid tight end in the league. 

The incentive-based contract has three tiers of salary based on yards, touchdowns or accolades earned, Rosenhaus told ESPN. 

If Gronkowski plays 90 per cent of snaps; or has 80 receptions or 1,200 receiving yards; or becomes an All-Pro next season, then he will earn $10.75. 

For the second tier and $8.75m, Gronkowski would need to play 80 per cent of snaps; or catch 70 passes; or have 1,000 receiving yards or 12 touchdowns. 

Tier three takes him to $6.75m if he can play 70 per cent of snaps or have 60 receptions; 800 receiving yards; or 10 TDs.

Gronkowski was set to make $5.25m in 2017 before the restructure. His deal, which expires before the 2020 season, remains unchanged for 2018 and 2019.

The Patriots are hoping the incentives can keep their star on the field, unlike last season. 

Gronkowski, 28, underwent season-ending back surgery in December to repair an injury stemming from a big hit he took from Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Watson in week nine but also was hampered by a hamstring injury and bruised lung.

The injuries limited Gronkowski to 25 receptions for 540 yards and three scores, career lows in all three categories.

It was the third surgery on his back alone (one came while he was at the University of Arizona) and left him as a spectator as Tom Brady led the Patriots to Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons.