BOSTON (CBS) -- The Patriots kicked off their OTAs this week, but the sessions won't be open to the media until Thursday. That didn't stop the Patriots from revealing that their All-Pro tight end is back on the field.
A tip of the cap goes to ESPN's Mike Reiss, who first reported that a look at the Patriots' Tuesday OTAs photo gallery revealed that Rob Gronkowski is back with the team on the practice field at Gillette Stadium. There are shots of Gronk making a one-handed catch and dancing into the end zone on drills.
Gronkowski and the Patriots are fresh off an agreement to restructure the tight end's contract to reward him with incentives for his performance on the field. Essentially, if Gronk plays for 90 percent of the season and/or produces at his typical level, he will become the highest-paid tight end in the NFL in 2017.
Gronk's return to the practice field is obviously a welcome sight for Patriots fans, but perhaps a bit surprising that it happened so soon. He has ostensibly recovered quite well from offseason back surgery, the third of his career. He also suffered, but mostly played through, hamstring and chest injuries over the course of the 2016 season, in which he made 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns in just eight games.
Gronk also had financial motivation for making it back on the field for OTAs as soon as possible. According to the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, Gronk would earn a $250,000 bonus if he participates in 90 percent of offseason workouts.
The Patriots' restructured deal with Gronkowski is a win-win for both sides. The team will only have to pay Gronk if he stays on the field and produces, and Gronk now has more motivation than ever to do so. His presence at OTAs can only be seen as a good sign.
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