New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots reacts after catching a touchdown pass during the second quarter of a game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

In a matter of minutes, reports on Rob Gronkowski’s return to football cascaded upon the sports world. And now it’s official: the Patriots are trading Gronkowski to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so he can play with Tom Brady once again.

The deal is in place, per Adam Schefter and others: Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick to the Bucs for a fourth-round pick. Moving up three rounds is certainly good value in and of itself, but underwhelming for anyone hoping the deal involved picks from the first two days of the draft.

Schefter reminded his followers of two years ago, when the Patriots nearly traded Gronkowski to the Lions before the draft. But the tight end told them he wouldn’t play unless Brady was his quarterback.

The Bucs entered trade talks with two selections in the fourth round, and the No. 139 overall selection to New England in the deal. The Pats also have two sevenths (No. 230 and 241 overall), so it’s unclear how far up the draft board they moved.

Gronkowski’s time as a Patriot is officially over after 10 Hall of Fame-caliber active seasons. And the even bigger story is the reunion with Brady, which adds to an already-explosive offense in Tampa Bay.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at

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