The Lions and Patriots nearly completed a blockbuster trade this offseason that would have sent star tight end Rob Gronkowski to Detroit, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com recently reported that the Pats were close to dealing Gronk earlier this year, and while Rapoport did not name the team that nearly landed Gronkowski, it sounds as if the Lions were that club.
Indeed, Rapoport said that, when Gronkowski learned that he was about to be traded, he threatened to retire instead. That jibes with Schefter’s report today, with the ESPN scribe noting that Gronk said he would retire rather than go to the Lions, and that the tight end declined to return Detroit’s calls even though the Lions are led by former New England staffers Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia.
Although Schefter does not say what the Lions were willing to give up for Gronkowski, he notes that discussions peaked during the week of the draft, so it sounds as if 2018 draft capital would have been heading to New England. After Gronkowski threatened retirement, he met with Patriots officials and the two sides discussed a plan for Gronkowski to continue playing, though Gronk made it clear he would only play for the Pats. At that point, New England called off trade talks, and the team ultimately sweetened Gronkowski’s contract.
It certainly seems as though the 0-2 Lions could use Gronkowski’s services. Although the team is not hurting for receiver or running back talent, the Lions are thin at the tight end position, and QB Matthew Stafford would surely love someone of Gronkowski’s caliber creating mismatches in the middle of the field.
Through two games this season, the 29-year-old Gronkowski has nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown.