DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is attending Sunday's Daytona 500 since he's sponsored by Monster Energy, and he had a notable thought on the possibility of teammate Martellus Bennett potentially signing a monster-sized contract in free agency.
"I'm hoping that he breaks the bank," Gronkowski said, according to ESPN NASCAR reporter Bob Pockrass. "Whenever you see a tight end break the bank, it's good for the industry; it's good for the position. You want to see the position grow."
Gronkowski and Bennett were supposed to form the NFL's most lethal 1-2 tight end combination in 2016, but it never truly materialized because of injuries. Gronkowski missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury and then was eased back into the mix the next two weeks. He then injured his back Nov. 13 and ultimately landed on injured reserve.
The Patriots acquired Bennett last offseason in a trade with the Chicago Bears, assuming his contract and 2016 base salary of $5.085 million. The Pats discussed extending the deal through 2017 at the time they traded for Bennett, but an agreement wasn't struck.
Now Bennett is poised to cash in as arguably the top free-agent tight end on the market. If Bennett "breaks the bank," it will probably be with a team other than the Patriots.
"I want to see him do whatever he's got to do," Gronkowski said Sunday. "I don't make the calls."
Meanwhile, Gronkowski is under contract for 2017 at a base salary of $4.25 million. He is also under contract for 2018 at a base salary of $8 million and 2019 at a base salary of $9 million.
With Monster Energy now sponsoring NASCAR's top series, the company brought Gronkowski to the race to create some buzz.