New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots catches a touchdown pass against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 24, 2017. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In the Patriots’ payroll department, the Rob Gronkowski contract is a fluid situation. That’s good news for both the tight end and the team. They could mutually benefit from each other when the Pats take on the Jets at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

Gronk is due a $4 million base salary in 2017, according to Spotrac. But the Patriots added $5.5 million in incentives this season, and he already earned $3 million of it when he passed 1,000 receiving yards on the season. His recent hot streak has put the other $2.5 million within striking distance.

The tight end caught five of his seven targets for 67 yards and a touchdown over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, including a one-handed beauty for the score. That puts him at 69 catches (heh) and 1,084 receiving yards with eight touchdowns in just 13 games.

Rob Gronkowski Contract: How Can He Maximize His Incentives? (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski scores a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 24, 2017. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski Contract: What’s Left For Incentives?

Gronk will trigger the last $2.5 million in incentives if he does one of the following on Sunday against the Jets: make 11 catches, gain 116 yards, or score six touchdowns. The latter is virtually impossible, but the yards and/or catches are doable if he has a big-enough workload.

He’s averaging 15.7 yards per reception this season, so Gronkowski could certainly pass 1,200 yards on the season if he makes at least eight catches on Sunday. It would be a career-best total against the Jets if he ends up with 116-plus receiving yards. But he did catch 11 passes once before, on Oct. 25, 2015 in Foxboro.

One more thing…

Gronkowski can also earn the last of his incentives if he’s named an Associated Press First Team All-Pro. But he has competition for that honor in the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce (83 catches, 1,038 yards, eight touchdowns in 15 games). Still, if Gronk can hit one of his target numbers on Sunday, he’ll likely end up earning that All-Pro distinction anyway.

SEE ALSO: Patriots Defeat Bills 37-16, Break NFL Records

The AFC playoff picture is still not settled yet. The Patriots have clinched a first-round bye, but still need to beat the Jets in order to earn home-field advantage throughout the postseason. They will have every reason to deploy Gronkowski as much as possible in order to secure the win, and Gronk will have more than enough added motivation to once again light up the scoreboard.

— By Matt Dolloff,

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff.