The Value of a Rumor in the NFL
As we head into the beginning of the NFL season news broke that star tight end Rob Gronkowski attempted to discourage the New England Patriots from trading him. On the surface and out of context this would seem to play into the big bad, evil image of Bill Belichick. The problem with rumors in the football world is that they come out in dribs and drabs. The Gronk rumors appear to come out of the end of a long offseason drama series. And the Patriots attempted to nail down what his plans were for the upcoming season. Let’s take a look at each rumor in chronological order and see if the entire picture makes anymore sense.
Rumor #1: After the Super Bowl loss Rob Gronkowski contemplated retirement.
This is understandable looking back. He was coming off serious back surgery that ended his 2016 season. Gronk injured his groin in Week 2 that no doubt lingered for multiple weeks. The frustration over penalties culminated in the body slamming incident of Bill’s cornerback White. His suspension in Week 14 was an unpleasant punishment. Then the normal aches and pains that an NFL player goes through each week in order to suit up. And a concussion in the AFC Championship game. Reaching the Super Bowl and playing a spectacular game only to fall in the end. Elite athletes that put it all on the line to achieve their ultimate goal understandably suffer a severe letdown in the immediate aftermath.
Rumor #2: Rob Gronkowski was angling for a new deal.
Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the NFL. Full Stop. His contract is not paying him like that. The team and the player have been locked in negotiations for several years to come up with inventive solutions to rectify this. The team of course could cave and give Gronk’s camp everything they want and be completely unprotected and set a dangerous precedent. They don’t do this for anyone. They will continue to be tough negotiators in order to get the best deals for the team. A little sweetener, such as what he received after training camp was nearly done may have headed this off, or it may have not.
Rumor #3: Patriots quietly attempted to trade Gronk heading into the draft.
The bizarre press conference in late April with Gronkowski appearing in dirt bike uniform, standing at a podium talking about his biking skills. Rumors of a wrestling career, acting career and no clear statement from the tight end that he was preparing for a 2018 season came to a head. Belichick clearly believes in attempting to get the most value out of an asset if it’s good for the team. The antics of the player may have been wearing on the front office. And prompted them to reach out to some organizations in order to gauge interest and prices. According to news reports, the 49ers, Lions and Titans were all involved. This make sense as they either have ties to the Patriots or have been recently been involved in quiet deals.
Rumor #4: Gronk makes his announcement.
Then the news that broke on Sunday just prior to the 2018 season that Gronk “protested strongly” any potential trade. This was accompanied by a powwow between the player, his agent and Patriots brass. Then on April 24th Gronkowski posted on his Instagram feed that he was coming back to the Patriots for the 2018 season. I’m sure the details regarding his involvement were all worked out ahead of time. Including his absences from voluntary team practices and his attendance at the mandatory ones. The result was that after a full participation in training camp and a healthy mindset, they inked a new set of incentives designed to give him up to a potential $4+ million dollars more.
Rumors and reports floating around breaking at different times during the offseason. Many times weeks or months after the actual events, it creates confusion. What is clear is that the franchise cornerstone is healthy, and ready to go. I’m sure there may be more rumors and hearsays in the months following another successful season. Just remember that these are business people and adults that all have a common goals. I’m going to ignore any more rumors and look to great games this season and a hopeful sixth championship at the end.
All photos courtesy of Getty images unless noted otherwise.
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