That was fast.
Within an hour of the report claiming Rob Gronkowski was interested in an NFL comeback, there is now significant confirmation that the future Hall-of-Fame tight end will be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with a seventh-round pick for a fourth-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
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This all came together so quickly, but suddenly, the Bucs have become even more intriguing and potentially dangerous on the offensive side of the ball. Meanwhile, the Patriots have a better draft asset to jump-start their rebuild.
The trade is now reportedly complete:
What This Means for the Bucs?
From a pure weapons standpoint, the Bucs look to be stacked. In fact, you could make the argument Tom Brady has as great of a collection of options with his current team as he ever had during his time with the Patriots. That includes the teams that had Randy Moss.
Currently, if the Bucs don’t trade O.J. Howard, they could run two tight ends in the way the Patriots did with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez back in 2011 before things went tragically and criminally off the rails with the latter.
In addition to that, the Bucs also have all-world receiver Mike Evans, speedster Chris Godwin and third-year-pro Ronald Jones II at running back. Gronk’s health and the team’s decision on Howard will be major factors, but on paper, this looks solid.
What This Means for the Patriots?
New England is headed for a transitional year, but it may not be a full rebuild that requires the team to fall woefully out of contention. Yes, the greatest QB in the history of the game left in free agency, and arguably the best tight end ever demanded a trade after retiring for a year, but there is still upside to the situation. The team still has 12 draft picks available.
The haul of selections is now even better as it has added a fourth-rounder in place of the seventh-round selection it sent along with Gronk to Tampa Bay.
The Patriots should now have six picks inside the first four rounds of the draft. That’s significant for a team with multiple holes to feel. The additional pick could provide the Patriots the assets it needs to move up to grab a player they are high on. It could also put the team in a position to use offer a pick to a team looking to move up. This would effectively add even more picks for the rebuild.
Unfortunately, this will not help the Patriots’ current salary cap situation. They have just over $1 million remaining under the cap, and since Gronkowski wasn’t counting against that number, the trade doesn’t create any space. We could still see a deal involving franchise-tagged offensive lineman Joe Thuney, or the release of someone like Mohamed Sanu to facilitate that financial flexibility.