New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 30: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots is tackled by Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets after catching a pass during the first quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

The New England Patriots were put in a straight-up terrible position earlier this week when Rob Gronkowski informed the team that he wanted to come out of retirement… and restart his career with a trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

First, you had the particulars of the Gronkowski trade in terms of what it would’ve meant to the Patriots’ cap. Had the Patriots decided that they did not want to accommodate the 30-year-old’s desire to be reunited with Tom Brady, a reinstatement would’ve seen Gronkowski’s $10 million added back on the Patriots’ books. For a team currently that needs to shake some coins out of their piggy bank before signing their 2020 draft class, that was a headache nobody wanted. Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, essentially said as much during an appearance on SportsCenter on Tuesday.

But you also had the Patriots left to essentially try and gauge the appropriate trade value of a player who was a straight-up dominant tight end in today’s game, even with his injury concerns, prior to his retirement in 2019. And to get that return from just one possible suitor. Again, that’d create a headache for anybody.

“There’s no set formula for anything like that,” Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said in a Thursday night video conference with the media. “You take the information you have, you process it, you talk about it, you make a decision and you move forward, which is essentially what we tried to do in that particular case.”

While the 6-foot-6 tight end’s trade to Tampa — Gronka Bay? Gronkaneers? What are we doing here? — was a doozy in its thinking alone, the Patriots certainly made it count. In fact, New England made sure giving Gronk the fresh start he wanted came with a three-round draft jump for the Patriots, as the Patriots attached a seventh-round pick to Gronkowski in exchange for a Tampa fourth-round pick, while trading a player who simply wasn’t going to play for them ever again.

“I think trades always kind of take on a life of their own,” Caserio admitted. “You just try to figure out, either you’re comfortable with the compensation that’s being offered and provided or you’re not. You make a decision and move forward.

“I think that’s how we’ve always approached trades, whether it’s veteran players or during the draft.”

The Patriots enter the second day of the 2020 NFL Draft with 13 picks to their name and with a definite need at tight end, but Caserio wouldn’t commit to drafting one, saying that the team will focus on finding the best player available.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.