UPDATE: Rob Gronkowski confirms retirement threat
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed a report Sunday that he threatened to retire in the offseason after talks about trading him surfaced.
Rob Gronkowski’s decision to continue his football career or retire last offseason apparently wasn’t as difficult as it was previously made out to be.
According to a new report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the star tight end was all ready to play another season in the NFL until the New England Patriots nearly traded him to Detroit.
Rather than go play for the Lions, Gronk threatened to end his time in the NFL.
Blockbuster trade talk at 2018 NFL draft
The potential trade looked ready to be completed around the NFL draft last April. This was well after Detroit had already hired former Patriots coordinator Matt Patricia as its head coach and was looking for ways to bolster its roster ahead of the season.
Upon hearing about the potential trade, Gronkowski reportedly told those involved that he would retire before he could be sent to the Lions. The 29-year-old wouldn’t even take calls from Detroit’s front office or coaching staff.
The Patriots were forced to call off the deal after a meeting with Gronkowski in which he conceded he would continue to play football only if he were with New England.
While the retirement talk began shortly after the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia in February, things took a dramatic turn for all sides when the trade calls began in the following weeks.
Another Gronk point: It wasn’t that Rob Gronkowski didn’t want to play in Detroit; he didn’t want to play anywhere other than New England. Patriots had been discussing a trade with a few teams, and Gronkowski only wanted to play in New England, with Tom Brady, or nowhere at all.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 23, 2018
Gronkowski wound up receiving a $4.3 million raise from the Patriots in August and is signed through the 2020 season.
Patriots play Lions in prime time in Week 3
The timing of ESPN’s report adds another layer of drama to an already important matchup between New England and Detroit on “Sunday Night Football.”
The Patriots are coming off a tough loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 and will play their first game since trading for wide receiver Josh Gordon. At 1-1, and with a limited offense thus far, New England needs a statement game more than ever.
Detroit, on the other hand, is winless to start the year and may be looking at an increasingly tough season to stomach. After getting crushed by the New York Jets in Week 1, the Lions lost by a field goal in San Francisco last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Gronkowski hasn’t exactly been the game-breaking weapon the Patriots are used to seeing. In two games, the tight end has 138 yards and one touchdown on nine catches after being severely limited by the Jags. He has also been dealing with an ankle injury, but is expected to play Sunday.
Given the circumstances, it seems to be the only way Gronkowski will ever take take the field in Detroit.
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