Gronkowski really didn’t want to leave New England, nor Tom Brady at the time. Even though the deal was agreed upon, Gronkowski was apparently able to work his way out of it by simply threatening to retire.
As a post from the NFL on FOX showed, Gronkowski explained how easy it was for him to avoid being sent to the Lions.
“I was actually traded to the Detroit Lions, I was contemplating if I should retire or not, the call came through, you’ve just been traded to the Lions. I go, well I’m retired. I don’t know how that trade can go through. Then, two days later, the trade never went through,” he says in the clip.
As another interesting aside, it’s been reported that Brady also threatened to retire if Gronkowski was shipped to Detroit, which was recently reported by Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston.
Clearly, even then, the duo had no intention of ever splitting up and playing apart from one another and were prepared to go to great lengths to make it happen.
Details of Failed Rob Gronkowski Lions Trade Revealed
As ESPN’s Adam Schefter detailed, the Lions nearly had a deal for Gronkowski near the 2018 draft. The Lions would have given the New England Patriots the No. 20 pick in addition to pick No. 51. In return, they would have received Gronkowski as well as pick No. 43.
Instead, Gronkowski nixed the deal.
The reasoning behind the deal falling through has been known for a while. Gronkowski didn’t want to leave the Patriots nor superstar quarterback Tom Brady no matter how much of a New England influence the Lions were in the process of adding. As a result, the deal never happened, even as it may have been a been a big boost for the Patriots to get another first round selection.
The Lions would go on to select Frank Ragnow with pick No. 20. Detroit and New England then went on to swap picks 51 and 43 anyhow, with the Lions selecting Kerryon Johnson with the 43rd selection and the Patriots trading out of the 51 slot. It’s interesting to know there could have been a much bigger deal involving those first picks, however.
Lions Tight End Plan
Detroit didn’t wait long to come up with a plan as much as they loved Gronkowski’s ability. The team quickly pivoted in the 2019 draft, picking up T.J. Hockenson, then signing Jesse James as a free agent. They invested plenty of money at the position after this move blew up.
While he hasn’t had the most dramatic statistical impact early in his career thanks to injury, Hockenson was easily one of the team’s top rookies in 2019 and a player capable of impacting both the run and the passing games.
After his work last season, many fans had chided Hockenson for not making a bigger impact on the game. As it stood, he only had only 349 yards and 2 touchdowns on the year which is not the statistical impact that many people expected from him as a top 10 selection for the team.
It’s clear, however, Hockenson is the future at the position for the team and Detroit’s clear answer following the failure of the Gronkowski trade.
In the end, Gronkowski didn’t want to be in Detroit anyway, so it can be said the team dodged a bullet on this move.