Am I stuck in a time warp?
The Patriots tried to trade Rob Gronkowski in the offeason? Yes! Yes! A thousand times, YES!
A Sunday splash report by ESPN's Adam Schefter adds a layer of reporting to the very well-established fact that the Patriots wanted to trade Gronk before the draft but didn't. The Lions were on the hook and talks were "deep."
The Lions, coincidentally, are the Patriots’ opponent tonight. When the Patriots play the Titans on November 11, it can also be reported then that Tennessee was asked if they were interested in a deal. Same with the 49ers whenever the Patriots see them again (now THERE’S a team that owes the Patriots a solid).
How much did we know about this prior to day?
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Well, according to multiple sources and as previously reported, Gronk was shopped to a few teams prior to the draft.
He made it clear he’d sooner retire than accept a trade. Tom Brady made it clear that if the team traded Gronk, they better be ready to find another quarterback.
These are things I spoke about in early April.
Sources within the organization have characterized the disillusionment of Brady and Gronk as being completely quarantined. They are on an island. The other coaches and players aren’t bristling about an uncomfortable environment, thudding negativity, or the never-ending mind games. It’s not Shangri-La. It’s closer to Parris Island. But it’s always been that way so who really changed?
Meanwhile, you’re Bill Belichick and watching this offseason of indiscreet discontent and thinking to yourself, “What’s my move here? Do I throw Gronk another pile of incentives to sweeten up his contract and get him to dummy up for a while? Does Brady want more money? I can knock his cap down.”
Then you remember you’re Bill Belichick and that’s the motherscratching opposite of what you normally do. So you think about trading Gronk.
Then you think about the further fallout with the quarterback. And the fact that -- if Gronk is already babbling about retirement -- he isn’t going to report to whatever Godforsaken outpost you ship him to. And you realize that, if Brady is already waffling about his future, why would you extend him past 2019? To save money against a cap that really isn’t even an issue right now?
That stupid-ass motocross press conference Gronk did on Saturday, April 21, five days before the draft was – as everyone in New England guessed – the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Bill Belichick – who’d had it with Gronk’s offseason ambivalence and Gronk and Brady going rogue with their offseason participation – wasn't going to be shown up like that. And Gronk's teammates who were already working in the voluntary offseason program, weren't going to be shown up like that.
But once Gronk nixed the trade, an air-clearing meeting happened on Tuesday, April 24, as reported by Schefter after a conversation with Rosenhaus.
They put the toothpaste back in the tube. Belichick assured Gronk he wouldn’t be traded and would get a contract tweak, which eventually came in August.
While Schefter reported on the fence-mending meeting in April, it wasn’t until early June when the scuttlebutt about the possible trade bubbled up. At that time, it was portrayed as current and poised to happen.
It wasn’t. The most detail on that day came from Adam Kurkjian, a former Boston Herald writer who tweeted:
From multiple sources, here's what I have re: the Gronk rumors. Told Belichick wanted to trade him. Offers on the table w both the Titans and 49ers. He and Robert Kraft had a closed-door meeting to discuss. Tom Brady threatened to retire if the deal went through. Kraft nixed it.
The Patriots shot that down saying there was “zero truth” to anything Kurkjian reported.
I was merely able to report that A) they’d tried to trade him and B) they weren’t going to.
Schefter’s add today was the Lions. And that’s news.
But here we are, on September 23 back kinda where we were a few months ago. The Patriots tried to trade Gronk. We know.
The details aren't the story. The fact that this is a story, that this came close to happening if not for Gronk putting big foot down, is and continues to be THE STORY.
Six months after trading Jimmy Garoppolo for peanuts, two months after benching Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl, in the midst of a war with the greatest quarterback of all-time that put Belichick at odds with an owner who couldn't bear the thought of a post-Brady Patriots - Belichick was trying to trade the best tight end in football.
Regardless of how rancorous things had gotten or how much Gronk and Brady were acting out, that there was no Camp David summit meeting prior to Gronk being almost dealt is both ridiculous and not the least bit surprising.
I don't know what kind of machinations the Patriots had in place if they dealt Gronk - I'm sure it wouldn't have included Brian Hoyer throwing to Dwayne Allen for the opener - but whatever scenario unfolded, the Patriots wouldn't have been better now without Gronk and Brady.
They are what's best for the football team. And Gronk saying "Me no go!" saved the Patriots. For now.
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