FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Dealing with so many significant players in the final year of their contracts and figuring which domino falls first is a delicate matter facing the New England Patriots’ front office.

The players in question, of course, aren’t talking about new deals, but it’s the elephant in the room.

Everyone’s waiting for that first shoe to drop, and word that the Patriots were in discussions with Rob Gronkowski’s camp about a new deal just re-emphasized the notion.

There’s no simple way to handle the business of taking care of Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler, Jabaal Sheard et al., along with keeping Gronkowski, who’s underpaid but not in a contract year, satisfied without ticking someone off.

But what’s the pecking order? And will someone be upset if he isn’t at the head of it?

The Patriots are in a situation where there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work to be done, and how they go about it will be important.

But the more you look at it, they risk alienating someone no matter which way they turn. Just having brothers Drew and Jason Rosenhaus, who represent Gronk, visible at training camp Sunday exchanging pleasantries with Coach Bill Belichick had to stir the pot.

Patriots Hall of Famer Willie McGinest, who was on hand for Kevin Faulk’s induction ceremony Monday night, agreed the topic would make its way into the locker room.

“In the room, even if there’s only two guys that want to get paid, they’re gonna talk about it,” said McGinest, who had his share of contract battles. “But the fact is you can’t pay everybody. And you can’t pay everybody at the same time.”

Of course, redoing the six-year, $54 million deal Gronkowski signed in 2012 makes sense. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime talent. He’s someone you not only want to keep but keep happy.

But bumping him before Hightower or Collins, who are still on their rookie deals?

If they haven’t seen movement toward new deals for themselves, think they might be a little peeved?

Another Patriots Hall of Famer, Ty Law, who is no stranger to contract battles, wasn’t sure how miffed the guys in the room would be if Gronk got an extension and was the so-called first in line, but did acknowledge an unspoken pecking order.

“When you’re talking about a guy like Gronk, he is the best damn tight end. But it might not be that simple.” Law said. “There are so many different variables that go through your head about what you’re going to be more irritated about. It is what it is. There’s only so much money to go around and you want to be the one to get yours.

“For the most part, you’re happy that a teammate got paid, but you want to get paid as well. That’s just a part of the business. There’s no exact answer. The pecking order is what it is. You want to be at the top.”

Surely, this is all being considered by Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio, with the new season now a little more than a month away. They know it’s a slippery slope.

They’ve had to deal with contract situations that escalated to the point of being contentious (Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork) before being settled, while some (Wes Welker) ended in divorce.

They’ve dealt with egos because that’s at the core of every payday. They know only money talks. That’s the bottom line.

“It’s a really sensitive subject because every football player wants to get paid. Everybody wants a new contract,” said McGinest. “If you’re producing on the field, then you’re pretty much going to get a new contract at some point. The problem is, teams and salary caps and the money that’s available, everybody can’t get megadeals or new deals. You saw it in Denver this year. You saw it all across the league.”

This isn’t Belichick’s first rodeo. He knows what’s at stake. It will be interesting to see how he maneuvers through the contract minefield.

Said Law: “Hopefully they can get them done simultaneously, or at least get some dialogue going between the players and the agents and upper management. Sometimes that keeps a player going and keeps his head up.”