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Gronkowski deal follows Dez Bryant model

Posted by Albert Breer  July 25, 2010 06:23 PM

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The deal between Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots, first reported by Mike Florio earlier today and since confirmed, was a little bit trickier than you might think.

We've been over the option-bonus issues that the Top 45 picks in the draft have had, and how they affected first-round pick Devin McCourty. Basically, the option bonus had been a way of adding guaranteed money to a deal without dipping into a team's salary pool, thereby circumventing its limits. But because of the looming 2011 lockout, agents and players have been leery about language surrounding those payouts.

Being the 42nd pick, Gronkowski falls into the category of those affected. And it looks like to get around the problem, he, agent Drew Rosenhaus and the Patriots used the framework of Dez Bryant's deal in Dallas.

The numbers I had on Dez are here. In place of a second-year option bonus, Bryant got a $3.185 million one-time, minimum-playing-time incentive, which is easily attained, and rolls over from year-to-year if, say, he's injured. So Bryant will likely collect the money, which is exempt from the rookie pool since it would be counted against the cap (if there is one) in 2011, before he would've gotten the option bonus.

It creates a win-win, and Florio's numbers show that the Patriots' deal with Gronkowski is set up similarly. It has $1.76 million signing bonus, and an $830,000 one-time, minimum playing-time incentive clause. So that $830,000 is, in effect, the option bonus. Outside of that, he has baseline rookie salaries and nominal workout bonuses.

As for the two guys left unsigned, the Patriots and Brandon Spikes remain at a bit of a standstill, while CB Devin McCourty still a ways off from striking a deal. We'll keep you posted.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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