Rule out a Rob Gronkowski trade from Patriots at your own risk

Rob Gronkowski trade rumors should be put to rest as New England sends other pass-catchers packing, right? Wrong, SN's David Steele writes. Guessing what the Patriots will do around the draft is foolish.

The time to declare that the Patriots definitely will or will not do something with one of their players, somebody else's player or one their draft picks is certifiably not three-plus weeks before the draft. But the trap is there, sitting wide open, and people are going to step in it.

So don’t close the door on the Rob Gronkowski trade talk. Not on April 4, as late as it seems and as crackling with activity as the NFL trade market continues to be.


Ruling out a Gronk trade in the wake of Tuesday's Brandin Cooks deal with the Rams is treading dangerous territory. On the surface, it seems logical. What intelligent team (an adjective that fits this one, since it’s still being run by Bill Belichick) would get rid of a receiver so integral to its success after losing two critical pieces already? Danny Amendola already departed in free agency. Moving Gronkowski now makes little football sense.

Well, moving Gronk never made strictly football sense, except for the annual worries about his availability. The speculation about his retirement revolves around his health. But everything else about the trade talk revolved around more than that. Those other factors have not changed.

IYER: Patriots creating questions but finding all the right answers

Take what’s floating around about the Patriots post-Cooks trade with the usual boatload of salt. That includes a report of “no talks” by the Patriots about a Gronk trade, from Wednesday morning, some 14 hours after the Cooks deal. (Also, for what it’s worth, give the same credence to the “they’re not going after Odell Beckham” report.)

The Cooks deal gave the Patriots a second 2018 first-round pick to go with the extra second-rounder they have from the Jimmy Garoppolo trade. Instead of this eliminating the need to trade Gronk, though, as so many have concluded, it gives them even more leverage and flexibility.


If Gronkowski has served as the ultimate security blanket for Tom Brady as the quarterback's wide receiver corps changes on the fly, the draft-pick haul now serves as the Patriots’ security blanket, a path to replace the tight end one way or another.

Guessing what the Patriots will do in and around the draft is particularly foolhardy. Last year’s maneuvering is only the latest example.

Remember (as if anyone could forget), the Patriots don’t let positional need get in the way of moving a valuable veteran for whatever reason they choose. As if their entire history with Belichick hasn't proven it, Super Bowl 52 did the trick, as did its aftermath — they benched Malcolm Butler, lost to the Eagles without him and then let him walk away without a certain replacement at corner.

They also won the previous Super Bowl without an injured Gronkowski. The Patriots simply have attached their own definition to the word "irreplaceable."

MORE: NFL Mock Draft 2018: Patriots find right QB in Round 1

The Patriots' plans for Gronkowski in 2018 and beyond are completely up in the air, yet they were at ease with it enough to say goodbye to their best wide receiver, without much of a safety net beneath him.

Rule out a Gronk trade — on this date, at this time and after that Rams deal — at your own risk.