Rob Gronkowski threatened to retire if traded to Detroit Lions

Kirkland Crawford
Detroit Free Press
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Update: Rob Gronkowski confirms the report, postgame after the Lions' 26-10 win over the Patriots.

On Sunday night, the Detroit Lions host Rob Gronkowski and the New England Patriots (8:20 p.m., NBC).

According to a published report, Gronkowski almost was traded to the Lions, but the superstar tight end seemed completely uninterested in that idea.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Lions and Patriots were in serious discussion over Gronkowski, who did not report for most of New England's offseason training programs.

Sep 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) on the side line during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Reports surfaced in June that the two teams were talking about a trade but that talks broke down. 

Schefter has shed some light as to why. 

More:Lions must slow down Rob Gronkowski to beat Patriots. But how?

According to Schefter, when Gronkowski learned he could be headed to Detroit, he threatened to retire. The 29-year-old tight end, considered by many to be one of the best in NFL history, also did not return calls from Lions GM Bob Quinn and new Lions coach Matt Patricia, both of whom know Gronkowski from their days with the Patriots.

From there, the Pats and Gronkowski talked about him staying with New England, which is what happened, with a reworked contract that added more than $4 million in incentives to his deal.

Later Sunday morning, Schefter tweeted to further explain Gronkowski's position, saying it wasn't the idea of being traded to the Lions that brought about the retirement threat. It was the idea of being traded in general. He only wanted to play for the Patriots. 


The Lions are thin at the tight end position without Gronkowski. They cut Eric Ebron in March, and signed Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo to go with Michael Roberts and Hakeem Valles.

That quartet has four catches for 40 yards and a touchdown in two games this season.

Gronkowski has nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots this season, and 77 touchdowns in his nine-year career. How many will he have against the Lions on Sunday night at Ford Field? 


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