For Rob Gronkowski, the only way is the Patriot Way.
The New England Patriots tight end confirmed Sunday night that would have threatened to retire last spring when he learned that the team was trying to trade him to the Detroit Lions.
“Yeah, it happened,” he told reporters after the Patriots' 26-10 loss to the Lions.
It was nothing personal against the Lions or their new Coach Matt Patricia, the Patriots' former defensive coordinator. It was extremely personal in another way, though. The 29-year-old Gronk, who had pondered retirement after the team’s Super Bowl loss in February, wants to play with only one quarterback: Tom Brady.
“Brady’s my quarterback,” he said, when asked about ESPN’s report earlier in the day. “That’s all. I’m not going anywhere without Brady.”
And that was that. With a trade off the table, the Patriots refashioned Gronkowski’s contract, adding $4.3 million in incentives for the 2018 season. Over the first three games, he has caught 13 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted five times against the Lions, catching four passes for 51 yards.
After the Super Bowl, Gronkowski was on the fence about playing this season and, despite his self-styled image as a genial doofus, says he is smart about money. In his 2015 book “It’s Good to Be Gronk,” he wrote that he had not “touched one dime of my signing bonus or NFL contract money.” In 2012, he signed a six-year, $54-million contract.
“If you see my NFL money, how much I’ve made -- I got way more than that, baby,” he said over the summer in an interview on the Uninterrupted’s “Kneading Dough.”