The Patriots nearly traded Rob Gronkowski to the Detroit Lions

New England Patriots v Carolina Panthers

The New England Patriots have a triumvirate of big names that have carried them so far in recent seasons past.

Bill Belichick at head coach, Tom Brady at quarterback, and his favourite weapon of his entire career - the tight end Rob Gronkowski.

However, it seems that not all is well in paradise, with reports circling today that Belichick and the Patriots were actually close on a deal sending Gronkowski away from New England - until the big man himself took action.

The last offseason was filled with rumours that the Patriots were considering trading Gronk, and now it's been confirmed by a tweet from ESPN's NFL insider Adam Schefter.

As the real story turns out, New England had a deal done with the Detroit Lions before the 2018 NFL Draft, but the trade went to shambles when Gronkowski threatened to retire.

Despite former Patriots defensive co-ordinator Matt Patricia in place as Detroit's head coach, Gronkowski refused to take calls from the Lions and put out word that he would rather retire. Because of that, the trade was canceled.

After the vetoed trade, the Patriots reworked Gronkowski's contract, giving him the chance to earn more bonuses throughout the season - which now looks like a way to appease the big man for trying to get rid of him and keep him out of retirement. 

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots

Once the Patriots realised they weren't going to get anything for Gronk, it became very much a case of doing what they could to keep him playing. 

Through the first two games of this season, Gronkowski has nine catches for 138 yards and one touchdown. Not bad for a guy that couldn't have even been on the team a few months ago.

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