Why the Detroit Lions shouldn’t trade for Rob Gronkowski
By Kellen Voss
Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski has been in trade rumors for the Detroit Lions. As exciting of a player as Gronk is, he may be too problematic to sign.
In the not-so-storied history of the Detroit Lions, the Motor City has not had a lot of players that have been considered locks for the Hall of Fame.
Running back Barry Sanders has already been enshrined, wide receiver Calvin Johnson should be in the next few years, and quarterback Matthew Stafford deserves a plaque in Canton once his career is over.
Needless to say, the Lions haven’t exactly had a plethora of Hall of Famers on the squad in their team history. So when the opportunity to trade for a future Hall-of-Famer arises, it’s pretty hard to pass up on acquiring a player that could push the Lions to a championship level.
This is why fans have had their mouths watering when hearing the rumors of the New England Patriots offering tight end Rob Gronkowski in a trade to Motor City. The Patriots have made it clear that Gronkowski is not on the table for all 32 teams, but according to Albert Breer of MMQB, the Lions are one of the few teams engaged in trade talks for the Pro Bowl tight end.
These exclusive offers are most likely due to past relationships in New England, as head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn were both formerly employed by the New England Patriots, and appear to be in good standing with coach Bill Belichick and owner Rob Kraft.
While Gronkowski is one of the most boisterous athletes in America, when it comes to his greatness, his stats speak for themselves. He is been the perfect tight end for the modern era of football, racking up 474 catches for over 7,000 yards and 76 touchdowns, as well as earning five pro bowl honors and four first team All-Pro honors.
If one were to merely look at the numbers, it would seem as if the five-time pro bowler would be a perfect edition to the Detroit passing game. He could provide a safety blanket for Matthew Stafford over the middle of the field, as well as be a huge target in the red zone, distracting defenses from Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. on the outside.
But much to the chagrin of fantasy football players, NFL games are played on a field, not simply on paper or simulated on a laptop. As good as Gronkowski is, he is human and he tends to get injured a lot.
To say Gronkowski has been injury-prone in the NFL is an understatement. He has not played a full 16-game season since 2011, missing at least a few games every year since then. He’s had multiple major surgeries in his right knee, tearing his ACL and MCL in 2013. Having a six foot six, 265 pound man with a bum knee may end up being a terrible investment.
The knees are far from the only concern when it comes to Gronkowski’s health. He has also had multiple major surgeries in his forearms and back, with his most recent back injury happening in 2016.
Great players get paid great amounts of money, and that’s no different for Gronkowski. He’s locked in to the Patriots until 2020, earning $17 million over the next two seasons.
What the Patriots wanted in return for Gronkowski in the alleged trade offer is impossible to tell. The Patriots as a franchise has always kept their cards close to the vest, but due to the fact that Gronk may be the best tight end in football when healthy, one can only assume that the asking price was rather hefty.
As amazing as it would be to have Gronkowski wear the Honolulu Blue, it was ultimately the right decision for the Lions to turn down whatever the initial trade offer was. Gronkowski is one of the most expensive tight ends in football, and while adding him to a top-ten receiving corp would obviously help Stafford, he is ultimately not needed to succeed in the passing game.
Add that to the fact that Gronkowski will always be hurt, and it seems obvious for the Lions to avoid acquiring Gronk. The cons may outweigh the pros here, as despite his massive production, his injury history, unruly attitude, and lack of locker room leadership make him not worth the price tag that follows him.
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While adding Rob Gronkowski could lead to an offensive explosion, Bob Quinn and co. would be dumb to invest $17 million in a man who may be one injury away from his football career prematurely ending. It would be much smarter to invest that money in the defensive side of the ball to make the roster more complete by mid-August.