Rob Gronkowski still hasn’t signed a new contract with the New England Patriots. Yet, he showed up on Thursday’s Day 1 of training camp.
While fellow NFL stars Khalil Mack, Le’Veon Bell and Aaron Donald are currently staging holdouts, the All-Pro tight end never viewed that as an option.
“(I haven’t) even come close to considering that,” Gronkowski said after the Patriots’ first camp practice. “Not even one bit. But what I can do is to keep preparing, keep showing up every day, and keep doing what I’ve got to do and get better.”
Gronkowski did not participate in the voluntary portion of New England’s offseason program, but chose to attend in the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp. There he said he’d like to reach an agreement on a new contract before training camp, which ultimately did not happen.
However, Gronkowski said his focus is on preparing himself for the season, not on his contract status.
“I’m just focused on getting better,” he said. “That’s internal with stuff like that. … There’s one thing I can do, one thing I can worry about, and there’s one thing I can control, and that’s myself — my play. That’s me going out there and doing what I’ve got to do to help the team.”
Gronkowski’s estimated paycheck for 2018 is around $9 million, which would be less than his last seasons’ earning of $10.75 million. The 29-year-old even spoke about retirement in the weeks following Super Bowl LII before committing to returning for his ninth year in New England.
Asked what he learned about himself during the offseason, Gronkowski responded: “That I love the game of football.”
“I said it in the summer — the game of football is amazing to play when you’re feeling good — and I’ll repeat it again: When you’re not feeling good and you’re banged up, the game of football can be miserable,” he said. “So what I learned was how to keep feeling good and to keep going and keep enjoying the game of football.”
Gronkowski did well at Thursday’s non-padded practice, catching four passes on five targets during 11-on-11 drills.