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New Gronkowski deal likely, but not imminent

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Is he being traded or is he not? Rob Gronkowski finds himself in the middle of a mysterious trade rumor that could see him potentially leaving New England.

Chatter regarding a potential trade of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski continues to bubble up from time to time in part because Gronkowski has yet to get a new contract. And a new contract won’t be coming in the immediate future.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a new contract for Gronkowski is “likely,” but “nothing is imminent.”

The source added that there’s still plenty of work to do. The biggest challenge, in our estimation (and not from any source), would be to determine whether Gronkowski will get another incentive-driven raise (he earned an extra $5.5 million last year) or whether he will have a guaranteed increase in his base pay, regardless of performance.

While a trade remains possible in theory, two different sources tell PFT that Friday’s out-of-the-blue reports regarding a looming trade were, as Gronk called them Saturday, “hashtag fake news.” The specific report of coach Bill Belichick striking a tentative deal, quarterback Tom Brady threatening to retire if it goes through, and owner Robert Kraft blocking the trade, simply didn’t happen -- on Friday or at any other point of the offseason.

If that would ever come close to occurring, a new team would need to know that Gronkowski would be on board with the change of venue, or whether he’d walk away from the game. It also would be wise to have an idea as to the amount of money he’d want under a new contract. None of that happened, either.

Here’s what remains the most likely outcome: Gronkowski gets another sweetener to his deal, he plays for at least one more year with the Patriots, and then he decides after 2018 whether to continue to play football.