Patriots Trade Rob Gronkowski To Bucs

Rob Gronkowski is ready to make his NFL return and he’ll do it with Tom Brady as his quarterback. The Patriots have agreed to trade Gronk and a seventh-round pick to the Buccaneers in exchange for a fourth-round pick. The trade is still pending a physical, but all of the pieces are in place for Gronkowski to suit up in TB, with TB.

Gronkowski, soon to be 31, told the Patriots that he wanted to return to football – just not with them (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of Rumors have swirled about the superstar tight end taking his talents to Tampa for months. Now, it’s happening. Gronk will pick back up where he left off with one season and $10MM left on his deal. Gronk has a $9MM base salary due in 2020, with the other $1MM available through workout and roster bonuses.

Gronk has passed his physical and the deal is now official, per Adam Schefter of (via Twitter). Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets that the fourth-rounder Tampa is giving up is the No. 139 overall selection, which is a compensatory pick. The Bucs still have their own fourth-rounder, No. 117 overall.

Although Gronk spent his prime tied to a contract he expressed frequent dissatisfaction with, he plans to honor it in Tampa, agent Drew Rosenhaus notes (via Rapoport, on Twitter). This deal goes all the way back to 2012, when the Patriots agreed to a six-year, $54MM deal with a player who would become an all-time great. For the time being, Gronkowski will remain tethered to that contract.

The future Hall of Famer said this week he was not “totally done” with football. He’s made a slew of “never say never”-type comments ever since his retirement, but this turned out to have legs.

Brady lobbied hard to have Gronkowski on the Bucs, per Rapoport, who adds Gronk has also been adding weight in preparation for an NFL return, Rapoport notes (on Twitter). The return-and-trade transaction is an unusual one, but it’s not without precedent. Back in 2017, the Raiders and Seahawks agreed on a trade involving Marshawn Lynch, allowing the running back to return to the NFL with his hometown team after a one-year hiatus.

As Gronk made notable inroads in the WWE, the Patriots sorely missed their top weapon. Brady struggled for much of last season, and the Patriots did not come close to filling the void the four-time All-Pro created when he retired over a year ago. It’s a fascinating deal, because the Patriots obviously need Gronkowski more than a Bucs team that rosters O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate does.

Gronkowski has dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career, with back trouble limiting him late in his Patriots tenure. But the Bucs are now set to pair Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin with the most dominant tight end of this generation. Even if Gronk has ceded that belt to either Travis Kelce or George Kittle, he still stands to be a difference-making presence for a Bucs team that has now added the highest- and second-highest-profile members of the second leg of the Patriot dynasty.

A Gronk-Howard-Brate setup would seem untenable, with Brate also signed for $6.8MM per year. One year remains on Howard’s rookie deal, though he can be controlled through 2021 via the fifth-year option. Another trade should be expected, one that would stand to help the Bucs add a draft pick to make up for the one they’re losing by acquiring Gronkowski. Even before this, there were rumblings of Howard being available.

The Patriots still do not feature much at tight end, but they have engaged in Gronk trade talks previously. They were close to dealing him to the Lions two years ago, but Gronkowski nixed it by indicating he’d retire instead of going to Detroit. With Brady now a Buccaneer, Gronk OK’d a deal to the NFC this time around.

The Bucs said no to a Brady-Antonio Brown partnership, but they have green-lit a Brady-Gronk reunion. Either way, this figures to generate immense publicity for a team that has not made the playoffs since 2007. Conversely, with no surefire Brady successor in place and Gronk now on another team, the Patriots feature major questions for the first time in decades.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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145 comments on “Patriots Trade Rob Gronkowski To Bucs

    • korn_cakes33

      They trade the rights of Gronk to the Bucs. If Gronk unretires, he is a Patriots. They can trade the rights of Gronk to Tampa so if he comes back, he will then be a Buc

      • PapiElf

        So, since Terrell Owens isn’t officially retired yet, the Seahawks could trade his rights to a team? The Seahawks were the last team he was under contract with.

        • Clint Byford

          He was released by Seattle, therefore making him a free agent. Your example is not the same as Gronkowski’s.

          • Jcool90

            Kinda funny tho. TO is washed up. It’s funny the Bucs aren’t gonna do nothing.

            • seattlesuperfan

              Don’t doubt Brady. Look what Winston did last year. Brady about to have a close to career year like he did they year they almost went undefeated

              • abgb123

                Are you really suggesting that a QB over 40 is going to defy the laws of aging and have a career year?

    • redsfan1984

      He never officially filed retirement paperwork I believe. And he left the Patriots under contract, so they retain his rights

  1. acarneglia

    The only reason NE would be inclined to do this is because they can get assets for a guy with no value otherwise

      • acarneglia

        He has no value to the Pats because he is “retired,” he has value again in a trade or if he unretires.

        • slapnuts

          It you said “they could get assets for a guy with no value.” Obviously he has value, unreturned or not. TB wasn’t going to trade for him if he stayed retired

        • slapnuts

          That’s an amazing grasp of the obvious. Does anyone have value if they stay retired?

          • BucSox

            Actually in the NHL some retired players do carry value due to their contract. Since their is a salary floor teams will occasionally trade for a retired player to be cap compliant when they are rebuilding or just have a lot of young guys on cheap deals.

      • DarkSide830

        no value because there is no chance he un-retires. if not for the constant pestering of him by reporters fishing for anything resembling a story the idea wouldnt have even been floated.

  2. bhd360

    As a Pats fan this offseason has been rough lol. Lose Brady, get awful new uniforms, now Gronk decides to come back, just not for us…here’s hoping the team is somehow bad enough to get Trevor Lawrence in the draft next year. Doubtful.

      • bhd360

        Minus leaving the silver helmet despite taking away all other traces of silver on the uniforms, they could be worse. The helmet ruins the look imo, should have gone to a white helmet so they could occasionally wear the red throwbacks as well. At least the stupid one helmet rule sounds like it’s done after this season opening the door for throwbacks again.

        • thatsright

          If they can wear a silver helmet with a blue uniform, they can wear it with a red uniform. Am I missing something?

    • crosseyedlemon

      Bingo. I expect both him and Brady will be spending lots of time on the Bucs IR reminiscing about the good ol’ glory days back in New England.

    • slapnuts

      Gronk is 30 and just took a year off. Hardly past his prime for an NFL TE. Health may be a concern but in TB, with the receivers they have, something tells me he won’t be getting hit nearly as much as he did in NE. As far as lemon’s comment about Brady on the IR, dude has spent ZERO days on the IR in the last 12 years, including the 3 years since he turned 40. “Something tells me” you’ll be very, very wrong

      • acryingfish

        football players typically don’t have a slow decline, they either got it or they don’t. just like Peyton mannings arm fell off so will toms.

  3. victorg

    So Tampa has most of the Leverage here BUT NE does not really have to do anything … i would assume a 4th does it but i would not hold my breathe BB can hold a grudge.

    • driftcat28

      On the contrary NE should have all the leverage. He doesn’t count against the cap so if the Pats don’t get what they want then they can bury him in retirement

    • goldenmisfit

      Tampa has zero leverage. New England is the one who owns the rights to his contract and he has one more year left on the deal so either Tampa gives New England what they want and they shipped Rob to Tampa or Rob plays that final year with New England and then signs as a free agent with Tampa. Right now New England hold all the cards.

      • HubcapDiamondStarHalo

        Tampa sort of had a weird “inverse leverage.” You HAVE to figure that the Pats had conversations with Gronk and were convinced he would not suit back up for them. Therefore, the New England leverage was demoted to “keep him and get absolutely nothing, including playing time” or “trade him and at least improve our draft stock.” Whether you’re a fan of the Pats or not, they do their homework before they make most moves.

          • victorg

            the leverage by TB is that if Gronk would only come out of retirement to play with TB then it gives NE two option keep his rights and he does not play or get something for nothing so to speak… knew it would be a 4th and i think TB is being smart right now.

  4. natsfan3437

    Most likely would have to be OJ Howard plus a third rounder to get it done. The Pats have no reason to play ball if they don’t want to.

  5. Hmmm, seems Gronk would need to make it worth it to NE to trade him to TB, otherwise he can continue his club dancing and WWE career.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Yikes! I hope your not suggesting Gronk starts giving Robert Kraft massages as an inducement to get traded. That visual is just too disturbing for me.

    • victorg

      yeah i mean you net a free 4th rounder , and with this deep draft very good chance we are talking about a guy who can be a factor i would be looking at the bright side if i was a pats fan.Also just for grins do the pats have the ammo to move up to draft a QB ?

  6. driftcat28

    As a Pats fan this does upset me. But if he really wants to go then I hope the Pats can get back Howard and a second or third rounder. I don’t think just swapping first round picks is enough

    • slapnuts

      Do you really think TB does this deal without a guarantee that Gronk is coming back?

    • ruckus727

      Bengals should make an offer. Could see the Packers and Cowboys having interest too.

    • Tom Brady’s a bright boy. Very friendly relations with Robert Kraft. Why would Robert Kraft want to enrage both Tom Brady and Gronkowski forever (both still have enormous value as long term franchise icons) by making Gronkowski’s return to play with Brady impossible?

      Don’t forget that after Tom Brady brought all those Super Bowl victories to Foxborough, Belichick basically fired him in 2018 with a one year deal for 2019, bring back a Lombardi or leave in 2020.

  7. phillyballers

    How did the manage to get a 4th? They literally had no leverage. Him un-retiring puts them over the cap and forces them to make a move to cut him or cut someone else.

    Overpay tbh.

    • Carson

      Ya I get that but he only wanted to play for Tampa so they had a lot of leverage

      • phillyballers

        Your argument says that Tampa had all the leverage. Not the Pat’s. Him only wanting to play for 1 team gives them only 1 place to trade him i.e. no options.

          • CriminalMethod

            And get nothing? That’s just bad business. Get a fourth for an aging TE or stand pat? I’d take anything for him. He was only going to play for the Bucs.

            • slapnuts

              Yes. To get nothing. They started with nothing. They had nothing last year when he sat out. They didn’t have to trade him. They had all the leverage

              • phillyballers

                How would the Patriots have manged his 10M cap hit with Team Cap Space: $1,229,895?? They don’t even have enough money to sign draft picks. They’d have to restructure at least 6 contracts or cut some dudes just to let Gronk sit on the roster. Or they’d be forced to cut him. Bucs didn’t draw it out, that’s about it. They paid to get him on the team sooner when they didn’t have to. Gronk had all the leverage because of his cap figure. I doubt he told Tampa to trade a 4th. He could have un-retired, screwed with the Pats cap space until they eventually cut him. If this was next year, he had zero leverage.

                • slapnuts

                  If he unretires with the Pats he wouldn’t “have just sat in the roster”. He would have played for the Pats. He might not have liked it but he’d have played. Pats would’ve made the necessary moves. Or are you telling me if he never retired in the first place the pats wouldn’t have been able to keep him last year and this one? The only entity with power in this situation is the pats. They didn’t have to trade him

    • icantstanditicant

      Exactly. Gronk could have just waited until they cut him. No way were the Pats paying him let alone keeping him.

      • If he is retired doesnt he voluntarily give up his paycheck? Pats had nothing to lose if that is the case. Do you think the Bucs want to piss off Brady already? Remember one of the points that was rumored was Brady wanted say on the construction of the roster (ala lebron). My guess is that Bucs offered 6th before Brady came on.

      • victorg

        as sweet as the offense is shaping up i mean is it just me or is this shaping up to me another Philly Dream Team type deal were they shat the bed going into the season with all that hype of Vick,Young,Jackson and etc etc

  8. MBarry

    Bucs are shooting for the stars this year. They should trade their remaining pics for Fournette now. I can see a team pulling away Howard at a lower cost now, maybe that 4th rounder the Bucs just lost. Go Pack Go!

    • king beas

      Fournette can be had for a 6th at this point they don’t need to give up anything of value and Tom likes 2te I don’t see howard being moved

  9. This washed up tight end will go great with the washed up quarterback they just acquired!

      • Ronk325

        Brady still played well last year despite having a laughable offense around him. Gronk had the last year to heal up and will have two stud WRs to take attention away from him. Both of them will have big seasons this year

        • A laughable compared to what he is used to, but Im sure Daniel Jones, Sam Darnold, Gardner Minshew/Foles, Mitch Trubisky, Russell Wilson, Fitzpatrick, Dalton, etc etc would gladly take what the pats put out compared to what they had.

          • Ronk325

            Every QB you named besides Fitzpatrick and maybe Darnold had better skill position players than Brady last year. What sport were you watching?

            • So your saying you would rather have tarik cohen and allen robinson over edelman sony michel rex burkhard james white?

              outside of fournette did jaguars they really have a weapon? everything was garbage time to chalk

              outside of saquon did giants they really have a weapon?
              they had no other player have close to 1,000 yds total from scrimmage although slayton looks like he might be special.

              Ill give you bengals have better skill positions and maybe Seahawks but that is because Russell elevates players around him.

              You only mention skill position players what about offensive line? … last i heard they may play a small part on the offense … believe me all those QBs know that bad lines = crap offense. Remember Demarco Murray …. cowboys best offensive line = top rb … eagles solid offensive line = he is barely an after thought.

              So do you actually watch sports or do you just look at the stat sheets?

              • Ronk325

                No but I’ll take Cohen, Robinson, Gabriel, and Miller over Edelman, White, and any two of the scrubs the Patriots have as outside WRs. Same goes for Fournette and Chark with literally anyone else on their offense. The Giants also had Shepherd, Tate, and Engram. I know they all either had injuries or suspensions but the point still stands. Are you saying Lockett and Metcalf aren’t WRs and Carson isn’t a good RB? Wilson is a stud but give those guys some credit as well. Sure Brady had a better O-line than those guys but look at how limited his options were. If Edelman wasn’t open for the quick slant or White wasn’t there for the screen he had to rely on clowns like Harry, Sanu, Meyers, and Watson. Go back and watch some clips from last season and see how many Patriots offensive plays were DOA because nobody could get any separation

  10. I like Howard to Cinci, tho not sure I think they will make that move. Need to dump Dalton first, likely to make that happen. Last I seen they had just over 7 mil on the cap.

  11. Ronk325

    Belichick has had an incredible coaching/GM career and there’s no denying that but running both the best QB and best TE in NFL history out of town will forever be a stain on his record. He’s going to have a hard time spinning the narrative when Brady and Gronk are thriving in Tampa and the Patriots go 4-12

    • mcmillankmm

      4-12? They are in the AFC East…they should win 4 games in the division alone

      • Ronk325

        They have a bottom 5 offense and also lost some key defensive players from last year. The Bills are a far superior team, the Jets are probably just as good if not better than them as this point, and the Dolphins have a ton of draft picks to improve their roster. The Patriots might beat the Jets and Dolphins at home but will probably lose to them on the road and the Bills will sweep the season series. That’s only 2 wins there and I don’t see them matching up well with too many other teams in the league

      • Ronk325

        He tried to trade Gronk to the Lions 2 years ago but Gronk threatened to retire then if they made the trade. I can’t imagine that did any good for their relationship. Then by letting Brady walk it effectively closed the door on Gronk ever playing for the Patriots again. Clearly Gronk still has desire to play, he’s just made it clear that it’s only ever going to play with Brady

        • slapnuts

          Trying to trade Gronk 2 years ago didn’t run him out of town. He played for the Pats the same year. They didn’t “let Brady walk”. He never gave them a chance to sign him. So the question still stands: how did they run Gronk out of town?

          • Ronk325

            If you were a player and your coach tried to trade you, especially to a team like the Lions, would you still view them positively? Yeah he stayed another year because Brady was there. Also Brady was essentially done with Belichick in 2017 after the Jimmy G situation came to a head. I imagine that didn’t sit too well with Gronk either since him and Brady are so close. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Gronk took last year off knowing that Brady was leaving New England and he could then dictate a trade to the team Brady went to. Lastly the Patriots never made any offer of any sort and by the sound of it made little to no effort to even talk to Brady before he signed with Tampa

            • slapnuts

              Read the other patriot-based stories on this site from 2 weeks ago. Brady wanted out long before free agency started. Pats thought they had a chance to resign him. Brady approached TB, TB didn’t approach him. So Belichick didn’t run anyone out of town. Brady bailed. And the fact that he tried to trade Gronk 2 years ago? That stuff happens all the time and players stay. In fact, Gronk said he would play for anyone but the patriots. Guess that was a lie. So again, no one got run out of town

              • Ronk325

                Yeah Brady wanted out cause he was tired of Belichick. He took pay cuts for years to help the team out and then when he finally wants to get paid what he’s worth Belichick had a problem with it. As for Gronk he specifically said in the past that he would not play with another QB besides Brady. Thus when Brady got pushed out it ended any chance of Gronk ever playing for the Patriots again. It really isn’t that hard to understand

                • slapnuts

                  You claim Brady wanted out and he got pushed out in the same post. Which is it?

  12. hOsEbEeLiOn

    Well OJ Howard is getting traded once Gronk passes his physical.

    Can’t see them keeping OJ Howard, Cameron Brate, and Rob Gronkowski.

    Maybe the 49ers do Kwon Alexander, Matt Breida, and possibly some cash if Breida isn’t enough to offset Kwon’s salary for OJ Howard. Bucs acquire an old friend at a reduced price plus a decent back in Breida and 49ers pick up a #2 TE behind Little.

    • OJ Howard has an injury history so it would be better to keep Cameron Brate out of the two. Both catch about 66% of the balls thrown their way. OJ Howard averages over 10 yards per catch while Brate is at about 7 1/2 ypc. Gronkowski also catches about 66% of the passes thrown his way but is also a 10 ypc guy.

      Apperently Howard is a serious blocker though, while Brate is a light weight. It would make more sense to trade away Cameron Brate.

      Keeping all three seems feasible and leaves room for injuries and substitution and lots of two tight end sets, where both tight ends are linebacker mismatches and fresh.

  13. Simmons>Russ

    Buccs don’t make much cap space at all now
    And OJ Howard didn’t earn much so trading him doesn’t free up much at all.

    Bucks should swap OJ Howard for Sony Michel and a 6th.

    Pats get themselves back a good young TE which is what they need and Buccs get themselves a good young RB.

    • slapnuts

      Howard is a “good young TE”? By what metric? At least Michel produces. No GM in the world, beside maybe gettleman and o’brian, trades a young, productive, quality RB for “a good young TE” of Howards caliber. Besides, who do the pats replace Michel with?

  14. dynamite drop in monty

    Brady is clearly a very smart QB and seemingly a solid leader but after following both their careers for decades it’s clear to me the chances of Brady falling on his face without BB’s scheme and planning are very very high.

    • BB was never the OC, he’s a former DC and does scheme the defense. Bill O’Brien and Josh McDaniels were the main OC for the Patriots.

      Brady has a very keen football mind of his own, as does Bruce Arians. Don’t see the issue being the playbook.

      • dynamite drop in monty

        Yes, I understand the hierarchy. But it would be shortsighted to not see how this entire teams scheme framework was set at the top. All those coordinators have fallen on their face when they left Bill’s teat.

        Hey I could be wrong. But let’s not forget Matt Cassel won 11 games and played his way into a lucrative deal for BB.

        • Royalrooter

          BB was 41 and 56 before coming to NE. Not saying he’s a bad coach but with any pro team a coach needs talent. TB12 will be great this year with his new toys and his binkey back.

          • dynamite drop in monty

            You guys are drastically underselling Bellicheck I think. Should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  15. Royalrooter

    Long time pats fan and ticket holder will now root for the Bucs next year. SB is in Tampa and the Bucs maybe the first team to have the SB at home. Those of you that are downplaying this move better look at some Gronkowski film. Even playing part time he’s better than most TEs. He never drops a pass and always gets open in big spots. Can’t wait for the season to start. I will still root for Pats but they are not a contender as currently constituted.

    • dynamite drop in monty

      If any Pats fans do this they were never true fans to begin with, but straphangers and front runners.

  16. forwhomjoshbelltolls


    They must have REALLY hated Belicheck. Even more than most thought.

    One engineers his own exit. The other retires.

  17. TJECK109

    I hope he gets body slammed at the 50 yard line and someone takes his 24/7 wwe title from him

  18. Rangers29

    This is the first time I’ve commented on Pro Football Rumors, but I felt this was big enough news to do so. I am a casual NFL guy, so I’m not sure if Tampa is a playoff team. But replacing 30 interception Jameis with Brady should automatically bring them up 2 wins. Add Gronk and now you’ve got an, on-the-cusp team. Please tell me more about the Bucs, I’d seriously like to learn more about the NFL.

  19. GeorgeVreelandHill

    Brady and Gronk will both be sorry they played for the Bucs.

    George Vreeland Hill

  20. crosseyedlemon

    My brief research shows that Kaepernick still holds the comments record at 150 (official confirmation would be appreciated). Gronk is making an impressive showing here however. I believe AB has cracked the century mark on 3 occasions which probably suggests we all need to get outdoors more.

  21. the preeminent nfl outsider

    I hope this dude just goes full maniac and lives on a party boat in the bay.

  22. 4th round pick is better than a no show player. Contract is off the books. The best move for the team.

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