The New England Patriots explored trading Rob Gronkowski in the offseason but the All-Pro tight end told the team he would rather retire than leave the team, ESPN reported.
The Patriots reportedly got deep in to trade talks with the Detroit Lions that led into the week of the NFL Draft and the deal nearly came to fruition. But when word got to Rob Gronkowski, he told the team that he would retire rather than leaving New England or Tom Brady.
As the report noted, it wasn’t just the Lions for Gronkowski.
“The Patriots had been discussing a trade with a few teams, and Gronkowski wouldn’t have reported to any of them, according to sources,” the report noted. “Gronkowski wanted to play in New England, with Tom Brady, or nowhere at all.”
It’s not clear what the Lions would have given up in return for Gronkowski, but given the market, he likely would have netted a series of top draft picks.
The Patriots ended up changing course and signed Gronkowski to a reworked contract that gave him $4.3 million in new incentives for the season. Gronkowski had a base salary of $8 million for 2018 and $9 million in 2019 before the restructure, NFL.com reported.
Though Gronkowski has consistently been the best tight end in the NFL — with the most touchdown passes in the league since 2010, with 76 — he is just the fourth highest-paid tight end, behind Jimmy Graham, Travis Kelce, and Jordan Reed.
But salary has meant little to Gronkowski, who has not spent any of his actual salary since entering the league and instead is living off the proceeds from his endorsement deals. He has contracts with a number of companies including BodyArmor and Dunkin’ Donuts.
“To this day, I still haven’t touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money,” Gronkowski wrote in his 2015 book It’s Good to be Gronk (via CNBC).
“I live off my marketing money and haven’t blown it on any big-money expensive cars, expensive jewelry or tattoos and still wear my favorite pair of jeans from high school,” he added.
Lions nearly traded for Rob Gronkowski, but he threatened to retire instead https://t.co/y5RoKpLOjc
— MLive (@MLive) September 23, 2018
The decision not to trade Rob Gronkowski has worked well for the New England Patriots this year. Though he struggled in a loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he caught seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in the Week 1 win over the Houston Texans. And just as importantly, Gronkowski is fully healthy after struggling through a series of ailments throughout his career.