BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots nearly traded Rob Gronkowski over the offseason, until the tight end nixed the deal because he didn’t want to catch passes from anyone but Tom Brady.
Gronkowski confirmed following Sunday night’s loss in Detroit that the Patriots almost traded him to the Lions, until he threatened to retire should the team ship him elsewhere. Gronk wasn’t interesting in breaking a huddle without Brady, something the quarterback sounded grateful for Monday morning when he joined WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan.
“I don’t want to get into any hypotheticals and things like that. I’ve played with him for a long time and think so highly of him as a player, friend, person and teammate. I’m lucky to play with someone I just love being out there with,” Brady told the show.
When told that Gronk would rather quit football than play with anyone else, Brady said he shares the sentiment.
“That speaks to our relationship. I feel as strongly as him as he does about me. I love the guy and he’s had a big impact on my career, personally and professionally,” he said. “I’m lucky to play with him and we’re going to keep fighting, keep figuring it out.”
The Lions did their best to limit Gronkowski’s impact Sunday night, sending numerous double teams his way to force Brady’s other targets to make plays. They couldn’t, and the Patriots offense struggled mightily in their 26-10 defeat, mustering only 120 passing yards. Gronkowski was held to just 51 yards on four catches on the night.
It makes you wonder what the New England offense would look like without their monster tight end. Both Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola were subtracted by Brady’s arsenal over the offseason, and he has to wait another week before Julian Edelman returns from his four-game suspension.
“We’ve definitely lost players through free agency and trades. That’s part of the NFL,” Brady said. “I love playing with Gronk and am happy he’s on our team, happy hes playing for us. He’s worked hard to have a great year, and he’s a guy I really count on and rely on to be great week in and week out.”
Brady once again echoed that New England’s offensive struggles will not magically turn themselves around, and that the team has to execute better on the field. Their early-season struggles are alarming, but Brady sounds confident that they’ll be able to figure them out soon.
“We’re going to go down fighting. There is no lack of fight or giving in to exterior pressures,” he said. “This is about us working even harder, tougher, stronger to get it turned around.”
The 1-2 Patriots host the 3-0 Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.