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Patriots Trading Gronkowski to Buccaneers

Tom Brady's favorite receiver from New England is following him to Florida.

Gronkowski turns 31 next month. He has one year and $10 million left on his contract after sitting out the 2019 season. In 2018, his last year, he played 13 games and caught 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns, finishing sixth in DYAR and 12th in DVOA among tight ends. He is also a two-sport star, having won the WWE 24/7 championship at WrestleMania earlier this month, a title he still holds.


42 comments, Last at 26 Apr 2020, 11:21am

1 That's looking like one heck…

That's looking like one heck of an offense for Ariens. Brady, Evans, Godwin, Howard, and now Gronk. Depth may be an issue. (I have no idea. I don't follow the Buccs normally.) But NFC South is going to be interesting. 

2 On paper this is a stacked…

On paper this is a stacked offense, especially at the skill position. However, we have no idea how Gronk's body will be handling a full season of punishment and everyone keeps ignoring the fact that Brady is going to be 43. Brady early in the season last year was better than Brady at the end of the year and I predict the same will happen again. 

4 The more interesting thing…

The more interesting thing will be how Brady and Gronk fare in their first season with the Bucs in 2021, or if they both end up just retiring without having played a game for TB (I don't believe there will be a season this year).

6 Id be curious about that…

Id be curious about that fact as well.  The NFL is being pretty cavalier that this is all going to be just fine in September. Well, hopefully we get lucky, but nothing I've read has suggested a vaccine is on the horizon in 3 months or 6 months or even 9 months. 

Also, to state the obvious, the NFL is not running an E game business. They are a heavy travel, large group congregation business. It's unseemly to pretend they can get around all of this without it impacting public health.

7 Well, Taiwan's playing pro…

Well, Taiwan's playing pro baseball and South Korea is about to, with the terms of a 3-week delay for *all* teams if a single player, coach, trainer or staff tests positive.  German futbol is aiming for a May 9th start, as is UFC.  Eventually something has to give with going back to semi-normal; in fact, Gronk was part of the sports comeback with WWE, with the show being filmed at the end of March.

Of course, both of the first two countries were able to simply squash the virus from ever being much of a factor, whereas the US is attempting a "reopening while living with it" approach.

15 You can't compare what…

You can't compare what Taiwan does with the rest of the world.

They haven't had a virus explosion, all their cases came from people getting into the country, there almost haven't been any infections in the country - so things continue pretty much as normal with all precautions already in place.

Although there is a scare at the moment with 3 guys from an infected navy ship having traveled around. But again, the government is doing everything to limit the spread by tracking back their whereabouts, sharing that info with the public  and then informing everyone who has been near them by collecting cellphone data.


17 I can see the NFL playing…

I can see the NFL playing games in empty stadiums. I cannot see the NFL not playing at all.


It's a bit tough to project the course of the epidemic in the US, since the infection data is clearly testing-limited. To get a good sense of what's going on without actually doing more tests (and preferably on a random, statistically representative subsample of the population in each state), one would need access to detailed testing criteria and the actual positive rate. Neither appears to be publicly available and would likely vary from state to state.


The CDC does publish total samples tested by their own labs (around 5,000) and "public health labs" (around 390,000). Considering that the total number of infections for the US is currently listed at well over twice that, I'm going to assume there is a massive amount of testing going unreported by the CDC. News reports claim hundreds of thousands to upwards of a million being tested weekly in the US. I have no idea where to find solid, aggregate numbers, though, so any analysis is futile.

22 " I cannot see the NFL not…

" I cannot see the NFL not playing at all."

Why not? The nba certainly was forced into it despite tons of dollars in lost revenue. Look, the NFL may not want it, but it may not have a choice. Again, we're talking about a business where travel and mass congregation are an integral part of the business - two things strictly speaking - that make containment a very real problem. 

23 Because 4+ months is a long…

Because 4+ months is a long time. If you look at every single country that has experienced a significant number of cases, the graph is pretty much the same. Sure, there are some (huge) differences in deaths and total infected (even per capita), but the qualitative nature of the curve is the same: Initial exponential growth, longer-than-expected middle, really long tail with occasional spikes.

The US is certainly capable of mishandling the situation and the timing could be "smeared" due to differences in how states handle things and when they do what, but even accounting for that, it's hard to imagine a scenario where things have not long since peaked by September.

Yes, there will be a really, really long tail, which will realistically (in most of the West) not go away until a vaccine is available, but that "tail" is where we will be in a few months, pretty much regardless of what. Even a catastrophic resurgence (not a second wave, since that implies reaching the long tail or similar first) would only take a month or two to get through - regardless of the catastrophic loss of life during that time. And I really don't mean to be cavalier about that. It could be absolutely devastating and no amount of "well, it's over now" will bring back those who lose their lives.

TLDR; By the time kickoff rolls around, we will be solidly into the "long tail" and the NFL would have sufficient funds to test-test-test everyone involved. Yes, the number involved might need to be drastically reduced (and not just in terms of fan presence), but the core 100-200 per team would certainly be manageable. Even PCR-testing could be expedited enough that testing could be done daily if that was needed in order to ensure a "safe" bubble around the NFL. And the TV money would make it well worth it. Reaching the long tail is a prerequisite, however, so this option isn't available to leagues suffering now.

37 Or just all road games to…

In reply to by amin purshottam

Or just all road games to start?


I think if we have no-fan games we'll see a lot of neutral sites and/or "home" fields used outside of city limits, to get around crowd limits that would still apply for a few hundred people?

27 I think with just how large…

I think with just how large NFL rosters and personnel are plus travel, it's expecting a lot to assume an outbreak is unlikely. There may also be a resurgence in the fall. And how effective and prevalent will the tests be? I certainly hope for the sake of the economy and lives that it's truly over by then, but still, you never know.


30 playing in 2020

Even if they rush everything at the fastest possible pace, they need a minimum of 4 weeks for training camp, including perhaps 2 exhibition games.  Can that be ready by Aug 1?  Don't know, but it will be available at some point, in some states, this year.

And that is the biggest wildcard which will affect planning.  Each state potentially has a different timeline for when mass gatherings may be allowed.  I expect the Rams and Chargers and probably Seahawks to be last allowed to enter a training camp (in their states).  Don't know if the league can force them to have training camp in another state, but if not, the last state to allow training camps is going to govern when the season may start.  Even playing field for all, and all that.  

40 A lot of teams train out-of…

In reply to by jds

A lot of teams train out-of-state...Texans/Saints have recently gone to Greenbrier in WV, and the Cowboys to Oxnard CA.


How far in advance are these training camp locations decided? And are there any force majeure or other "out clauses" ?

42 Also worth noting that the…

In reply to by jds

Also worth noting that the NBA is reopening practice facilities without a regard to do all at once on an even playing field, i.e. according to each municipality's and state's timeline on lifting restrictions.


I doubt that this would necessarily mean full-contact practices, though.

35 NBA is still aiming to…

NBA is still aiming to restart; Bill Simmons just said the most likely scenario is some sort of reduced format at a neutral site i.e. top 6 in east or west, with NFL-style first round byes.


5 While I'm sure Gronk only…

While I'm sure Gronk only wanted to play with Brady, I'm wondering how much of his retirement was due to Gronk not wanting to get play twice against Jamal Adams.  I don't want the Jets to trade Adams, but if they do, hope it's to a NFC South team, and then Gronk decides he needs to go somewhere else.

18 Adams appears to be a great…

Adams appears to be a great player on the back end....but is he really of the caliber that TEs would rather get traded than play against him?  Did he really affect Gronk that much? 

I think Gronk routinely played against much better safeties in Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, and seemed to do OK.

24 Ed Reed was definitely…

Ed Reed was definitely better than Adams; more interceptions and a better deep coverage player.  Polamalu might be better, although it seems to me his career is what Adams might reach, in terms of destroying offensive plays at the line of scrimmage or down the field.  Why I suggested Gronk may be avoiding Adams is simply due to Adams ability to hit people and get away with it. Here is an example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c041z-KBgA4

Ed Reed was better than Steve Atwater, but I'm sure people really hated facing Atwater.  Of course, this is just egotistical posturing by a Jets fan.  I don't have much to root for, even with Gronk and Brady gone from the division.

36 I agree that it sounded a…

I agree that it sounded a bit dramatic/posturing. :)

Having to face TJ Ward just once a year was terrifying for him for sure, when after Ward as a Brown destroyed Gronk's ACL in '13 he joined the consistently-first-place-schedule Manning Broncos.

8 I'm just in awe that…

I'm just in awe that Belichick - who surely has an ego himself - was willing to do Brady this favor in exchange for shifting a pick from round 7 to 4.

If he had any eye on keeping the "who was more important to the dynasty" argument close in 2020 at all, it'd have been worth the 4 just to sit on Gronk's rights.

Of course, it seems as though they were in full tank mode all along, given the QB non-moves (I'll go to my grave insisting that they could've made Mariota a star) and the cap situation, in which case that pick upgrade, in this draft especially, is a big asset, but still... damn. Even with the age and the injury risk, why would you do Brady that favor for another team? 

I guess now the Bucs REALLY don't need OJ Howard, huh.

9 I think that considering…

I think that considering Gronks comments last year about being retired, the inability to practice, his comments about living without pain, and the relatively high chance that there's no football this year - that the chances of Gronk playing an NFL game for Tampa are incredibly small. 

16 Belichick is not making…

Belichick is not making decisions with that "who was more important to the dynasty" argument in mind at all. 

My guess is that Tampa was the only team willing to trade a fourth for Gronk's rights and apparently Bilichick liked the deal. If these were the Rams he'd probably do the same.

29 Cap Issues

I read something that suggested Gronk said he wanted to come back, but NE didn't have the cap space for his salary. So Gronk said he'd only play for the Bucs, and instead of getting nothing for him, got a draft pick back instead. No idea of the validity of this information, but maybe that's it?  

10 I'm in awe of NE's ability…

I'm in awe of NE's ability to manufacture draft picks out of nothing. Gronk looked shot the last time he played and he's going to have to work himself back into game shape.

11 The Right Take

This is the right take; Gronk's rights are worth nothing to NE (he's never going to play for the Pats certainly). With the contract attached (9 million for next year) he's expensive on the cap vs. the likely number of effective snaps he can play. This is a rabbit out of a hat.

Further to another posters comment it's also a great credit the BB that rather than sit on Gronk's rights out of spite, BB is getting what he can out of the situation (I'd be shocked if Gronk playing in Tampa makes a 0.01% difference to the odds of NE winning the Superbowl, now or in the foreseeable future).

12 NE couldn't sit on Gronk's…

In reply to by sbond101

NE couldn't sit on Gronk's rights out of spite even if they wanted to.

If Gronk unretired and NE didn't trade him or cut him he'd hit NE's cap at $9.9mil.  So I'm surprised NE even got a 4th for him, even with the 7th thrown in alongside Gronk.


19 Frankly, Belichick may have…

In reply to by sbond101

Frankly, Belichick may have traded Gronk for a 4th even if he hadn't been retired.  Let's not forget that he had a deal done with Detroit before 2018 that Gronk torpedoed by threatening retirement.  Belichick clearly feels that Gronk has passed his expiration date, or perhaps he was tired of dealing with the XL personality.

13 Gronk looked shot???

I don’t think so.  He was their best player in the playoffs and made that huge catch setting up the only TD in the super bowl win over the Rams.  Your going to see both Brady  and Gronk put up some monster stats this season.

32 I'll take that bet

If you'd like to bet on a 43 y/o QB and a TE with large injury history & retired for a year & over 30 putting up "monster stats", even with the weak defenses of the NFC South, I will GLADLY take the con side of that bet!

33 "Shot" is a bit strong, but…

"Shot" is a bit strong, but he was clearly diminished to the point of ordinariness. He was still solid as a receiver and as a blocker, but certainly wasn't nearly the game-changing threat he had been previously, and the season-long numbers bear that out. Anyone can have a huge catch in the Super Bowl, as the Pats well know.

I will absolutely take a bet about "monster stats," though. Brady wasn't clearly better than Winston last year and he's been trending down for awhile, and in particular he looked done in the second half of last year. I predict the Buc's offense will look amazing for about four games, due to a combination of extra rest, rejuvenated enthusiasm, and necessary time for opponents to suss out how the Brady-Arians collaboration works, and then it will steadily implode over the remainder of the season as age and wear catch up in a big way. And Gronk specifically has to compete for catches with Evans and Godwin, and maybe even OJ Howard; he'll probably be more of a blocker than receiver on the balance.

34 I think this is the right…

I think this is the right take. The argument sounds appealing, fresh start + a year of sitting out football = a rejuvenated Gronk.  But I can't remember a player who retired and then came back and was anything close to his dominating self. 

The point about Brady was spot on as well. If you could load manage Brady throughout the season, that would be one thing, but you cannot. And Brady playing well for a full season at 43 would be completely unprecedented for a QB. Could happen, sure, but it's asking a lot. 

38 Gronk as a blocker's still a…

Gronk as a blocker's still a pretty big deal, though.  Him being on the field helps the offense in lots of ways: pass protection, run-blocking, and having to account for him as a possible receiver.

I'd expect the injuries and time are slowing him down, so Gronk as a receiving threat up the seam is likely diminished, but he does so many other things well, I think it's a huge plus for TB to have picked him up.  I'd go so far to say that attracting Gronk to play for them may be the biggest payoff the Bucs get from hiring Brady. 

Having said that, with his injury history, there's a pretty decent chance that the Bucs don't get a full season's of value out Gronk.  Still worth a 4th rounder for the roll of that die, though, in my opinion.

14 4th-rounder for a 30-year…

4th-rounder for a 30-year-old, probable first ballot HoF who causes major problems for defenses is good business.

But enough about what Belichick paid for Randy Moss ...

20 Back Surgeries

Randy Moss hadn't had 4 back surgeries & sat on the couch for a year....

In defense of the value of Gronk, it is very possible he retired in part because he wanted out from NE rather than because he was outright done with football.

31 he retired in part because…

In reply to by sbond101

he retired in part because he wanted out from [TEAM] rather than because he was outright done with football

That's essentially what Le'veon Bell did, and that was something less than a resounding success.

I'm baffled that there's as much "Tampa fleeced the Pats!" sentiment going around as there is (predominantly outside this site). If Gronk had played in 2019 and replicated his 2018 season, I'd be willing to give maybe a 3rd for him, considering his health, age, contract, and performance level. That he didn't play last year sure as hell doesn't drive his value up.

It ain't 2011, folks. It ain't even 2017, for that matter.

39 I think it's a great deal…

I think it's a great deal for both teams.  Belichick got a draft pick for a retired player, which sounds like dark sorcery to me.

Meanwhile, TB gets a rejuvenated Mountain - wait, I mean Gronk - back from the dead - sorry, I mean retirement - and who knows what plot twists - impact, I meant impact! - that foretells for the future.

21 This reminds me of Jason…

This reminds me of Jason Witten unretiring and he looked old and slow last year. Gronk was a better player and is younger but he also had more injuries. I am skeptical.