Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was nearly dealt to the Detroit Lions the week before the 2018 NFL Draft, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning. According to Schefter, the Patriots and Lions almost completed “a blockbuster trade” involving Gronkowski. Other players included in the deal were not identified. Schefter corroborated an NFL Network report from earlier this month that said Gronkowski threatened to retire once he caught wind of the trade talks.
Schefter reported Gronkowski declined to return calls from the Lions, even though coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn are both former members of the Patriots’ organization. Gronkowski and the Patriots then met and reached an agreement that he would continue playing in New England. The trade was called off.
“I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats,” Gronkowski wrote on Instagram April 24, two days before the start of the draft. “I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run.”
Gronkowski was resistant to being traded because he reportedly did not want to play anywhere but in New England — not because he was against the possibility of playing in Detroit, specifically. According to Schefter, the Patriots had been in trade talks with “a few teams,” but Gronkowski was adamant on staying put.
Both trade and retirement rumors involving Gronkowski were rumbling throughout the offseason. Pro Football Talk reported in June the Patriots were shopping Gronkowski in the days leading up to the draft, but owner Robert Kraft called the buzz “hogwash,” telling reporters a deal was never in the works.
Gronkowski is in his ninth season with the Patriots, who selected him 42nd overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. Through 104 games in his career, the 29-year-old has 483 receptions for 7,317 receiving yards and 77 touchdowns.