PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 27: (L-R) Rob Gronkowski #87 and Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots react after Gronkowski caught a 24-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 27, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
A record-setting season yields a record-setting contract for Rob Gronkowski. The former Arizona tight end signed a 6-year, $54 million extension on Friday per NFL.com reporter Albert Breer. The deal makes Gronkowski the highest paid tight end in league history, one season after setting a record with 17 touchdown receptions.
Gronkowski may not necessarily be revolutionizing the position, but he has certainly upped the ante on the tight end's role. New England effectively both Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez more as skill position players than linemen. Hernandez had seven scores and accounted for over 900 of the tight end tandem's 2250 combined yards.
While benefiting from then-Patriot offensive coordinator, now-Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien's scheme, as well as Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady's, Gronkowski's hybrid style of play dates back to the Old Pueblo. He caught 47 passes from Willie Tuitama in 2008, 10 for touchdowns.
The uncanny red zone ability that has made him a professional hit translated well at UA -- think the Wildcats could have used him in 2010 when ranked No. 113 in red zone offense?