On Tuesday April 21st 2020 the NFL and sports world as a whole was shocked to find out that Rob Gronkowski wanted to return to the game of football. However there was a catch. He did not want to return to the team he retired with (New England Patriots) but rather with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If Gronk returned it would only be for the Bucs, forcing the Patriots to trade him and the remainder of his contract (1 year 9 million). The final terms of the trade were Rob Gronkowski and a 7th round pick (241nd) for a 4th round pick (139th). This trade is extremely important for both sides and here’s why:
Gronk gives Brady another Weapon
Adding Rob Gronkowski to an already stacked Bucs offense is huge, but the most important aspect is that it gives Brady a guy he can trust. It is proven that Brady works best with players that he trusts throwing the ball to. It is likely that he develops good chemistry with star wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as the season goes on, but he already has that with Gronk. He will trust throwing it up to him in the end zone and on big plays late in the game as soon as the season starts. In addition to his receiving skills, Gronk is an elite blocker at the tight end position. He will instantly impact the run game which will open up play action for the offense. It also gives the Bucs another guy to help protect Brady in the pocket. This was essential for Brady to have because in a division with the stacked Saints, scrappy Panthers, and a Falcons team that is boom or bust it will be important for Brady and the Bucs to win games early in the season. Adding Gronk to a group of already stacked receivers should be huge early in the season and throughout the year as Brady gains a guy he trusts.
Trade Gives Bucs Flexibility on Draft Night
Another huge aspect of this deal is that the Bucs can get very creative on draft night. Adding Gronk makes young tight end OJ Howard available in trade talks. They could use Howard and package him with their 1st round pick (14th) to potentially move up in the draft to select one of the highly coveted tackles to help protect Tom Brady. They could also move him for a couple of later round picks and get much needed depth pieces. Another option is they keep Howard but that seems unlikely right now. Teams like the Packers, Bengals, Redskins, and even the Patriots have been linked to Howard. Look for Howard to be on the move during the draft at some point.
Potential Patriots Draft Day Trade?
The Patriots have been in multiple trade rumors involving the draft. When the Gronk news broke its was rumored that the Patriots could use the 4th rounder as draft ammunition to trade up. The Patriots also have a piece in guard Joe Thuney that is likely to be moved over the inability to get a long term contract agreed upon. Maybe Thuney and that 4th can get them a second selection in the 1st round on top of already owning pick 23. The Patriots could also stick to the Patriot way and keep the fourth round pick as GM and Coach Bill Belichick has done very well later on in the draft throughout his career. As much as it hurts to see Gronk go, it is another pick the Patriots did not expect to have and they will take it as they look to retool the roster.
Different Routes the Patriots Could go on Day 1 of the Draft
The Patriots have an ample amount of routes they can take in the first day of the draft. The first option is to trade up in the draft to select a quarterback. The Patriots have been linked to Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and Jordan Love. They would have to trade into the top 10 for Tua, but there is a chance the other two could fall. Another route if the Patriots want a quarterback would be to wait until day 2 or 3 of the draft and select Jalen Hurts. Which leads us to option two which is standing pat. If the Patriots stay where they are they will still find good value in such a stacked draft class. Herbert or Love could fall, they could also go a pass rusher such as Iowa’s AJ Espenesa, maybe address their aging safeties with a guy like Grant Delpit, or their linebacker problems with a Kenneth Murray. The third option is one many fans do not want to hear, and that is trading down. The Pats could move down from 23 for a second and a third rounder or maybe even a package that could include a 1st round pick in the 2021 draft. Whatever the Patriots do Belichick will make sure he gets what he is looking for which will in all likelihood be a quality player.