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The Patriots were shopping Rob Gronkowski for a trade ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft

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What would they have received in return?

Super Bowl LII - Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

There was a rumor last week that the New England Patriots were interested in trading All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, but both Robert Kraft and Tom Brady intervened and prevented Bill Belichick from sending Gronk to Tennessee or San Francisco.

The team has vehemently denied that rumor, but Pro Football Talk reports that the Patriots had been shopping Gronkowski- just must earlier in the offseason.

“Per a league source, the Patriots were calling other teams about a possible Gronkowski trade as recently as three days before the draft,” PFT reports. “Coincidentally (or not), Gronkowski ended nearly three months of uncertainty regarding his future by declaring publicly that he would play in 2018 only two days before the draft.”

It is unclear what the Patriots were hoping to receive in return for Gronkowski, but a hypothesis is that New England was interested in acquiring assets to move up the draft board for a quarterback like Baker Mayfield.

The Patriots had previously shipped away wide receiver Brandin Cooks for a first round pick, but they lacked the draft capital to move into the top two- where they would have to move to leapfrog the New York Jets and their clear need for a quarterback at third overall. Moving Gronkowski for more assets- or even packaged with the picks to the New York Giants to get the second overall pick- makes some sense from a trade perspective.

What is Gronkowski worth in a trade? He’s the most talented tight end in NFL history, but comes with a lengthy list of major injuries and surgeries and has contemplated retirement. His contract is a bargain for his value, but it’s not like he’s on a rookie deal or plays the quarterback position. Is he worth a first round pick? Would the Patriots have received more than what they got for Jimmy Garoppolo?

Can you imagine the reaction in New England if the Patriots traded away multiple first round picks and Gronkowski to draft Tom Brady’s eventual replacement?

Ultimately, no trade materialized and Gronkowski now appears to be on the same page as Bill Belichick with regards to his football career. The next question is whether Gronkowski will get the new contract he’s been trying to sign.