The New England Patriots very nearly traded tight end Rob Gronkowski to the Detroit Lions last offseason, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
The Patriots and Lions were apparently closing in on a blockbuster deal involving Gronkowski during the week of the NFL Draft. However, Gronkowski learned about the proposed trade and threatened to retire if was dealt to Detroit despite the Lions’ significant New England connections with GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia.
Shortly thereafter, Gronkowski and Patriots officials met, with the two sides discussing a plan for the All-Pro to continue playing in New England. The Patriots subsequently called off any proposed trade with the Lions. And perhaps not coincidentally, Gronkowski, who had previously been noncommittal about playing in the 2018 season, announced his commitment to return days before the draft.
Several parts of Schefter’s report are in line with previously released information. Three months ago, it was reported that the Patriots were deep in discussions about a deal for Gronk three days before the draft, specifically with four teams: the Titans, 49ers, Texans, and Lions.
And a couple weeks ago, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Gronkowski rebuffed a potential trade by threatening to retire. Rapoport did not disclose the team, though. As it turns out, it was the Lions.
Obviously, it was disappointing for the Lions to miss out on such a terrific talent like Gronkowski. But Gronk just wasn’t interested in playing for Detroit and preferred to keep playing for the Patriots. And based on the fact that he's been a consistent Super Bowl contender in New England, where he's spent all of his career, it was hard to blame his decision.