That’s not a typo or a David Blaine mind trick; the New England Patriots should absolutely trade tight end Rob Gronkowski. Put down the torches and pitchforks, because this will all make sense in a minute.
First, the “Boston TE Party” is over, mostly because one half ended up in prison, but it was always going to end badly because Gronkowski is apparently made of glass. In his brief career he has had a back surgery known as a microdiscectomy, where a portion of the spine is removed to relieve pressure on a nerve, a twice-broken forearm, torn ACL, a herniated disc and a severe ankle injury that required surgery. In all, Gronkowski has had four surgeries to repair his fragile body in the last two years. I’m not sure what you call that, but I call it injury-prone and he is only 24. He has become unreliable and keeping him is untenable and foolish.
Second, without Aaron Hernandez, who was always the more talented player, the two tight end offense is in shambles as Gronkowski’s level of success severely diminishes. Gronkowski is the lumbering Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys while Hernandez was the versatile Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints. Together they conquered defenses, but separately, Gronkowski is a liability whether it’s the injury history or Josh McDaniels trying to force-feed him the ball because the rest of the team forgot their Stickum.
Third, he still has value for a team that needs a productive tight end and is willing to take the gamble his body holds up to the strain of regular season football. The Patriots should look to trade Gronkowski while his base salary remains below market value and before the 2015 season when the $10 million option comes into play. At that point, the Patriots could pick up the option or release him for nothing in return just to save a little cap space. Both options seem pointless and do the Patriots no good, because basically, they’re playing Russian roulette with Gronkowski given his injury history.
So that leads back to trading him to a tight end starved team with nothing to lose and everything to gain so the Patriots come away the winners. It’s no secret the Patriots value draft picks. Bill Belichick should end up on “Hoarders” for how he packs them away. Those draft picks could be used to acquire quality defensive players the team so desperately needs, and given Bellichick’s history of swings and misses, the more picks the better.
They could easily turn Gronkowski into another third-round pick or better and use it to load up at defensive end and take some pressure off their newly acquired toys, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Ra’Shede Hageman from Minnesota, Dee Ford from Auburn or Louis Nix III from Notre Dame are all potent pass rushers, something the Patriots haven’t had since Richard Seymour. After all, we just learned that defense wins championships, not gaudy offensive stats.
Additionally, replacing Gronkowski is not a cause for concern. Too many people view him as an untouchable or someone who is too valuable, treating him like some kind of offensive savior. This is nonsense. Since he has been on the team the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl, and when they need him the most he always come up limping or gimping. He’s spectacular in bursts, and all the other times he is on injured reserve or creating new Spanish lingo.
It should also be mentioned, replacing Gronkowski would not be that difficult. Remember that he was the No. 42 overall pick. Hernandez wasn’t selected until the fourth round, and their equal, Graham, wasn’t taken until the third round. They could either trade Gronkowski for another tight end or simply draft his replacement. It’s not like Tom Brady isn’t used to throwing to rookies and still winning 12 games a season.
There are plenty of potential replacements such as Eric Ebron from North Carolina, Jace Amaro from Texas Tech or C.J. Fiedorowicz from Iowa, and with the extra pick or picks from the Gronkowski trade, there’s no reason they couldn’t potentially draft the “Boston TE Party” version 2.0.
The Patriots need to seriously consider this as a viable option and do what’s best for business. And what’s best is to trade Gronkowski now before it’s too late.