New England Patriots: They Almost Missed Out on Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez?

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IFebruary 9, 2011

Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune commented yesterday on a trade discussed between the New England Patriots and the Chicago Bears which would have sent tight end Greg Olsen to the Patriots for a second-round pick in last year's draft.

The Bears had recently hired Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz, and there were reports stating the new offensive philosophy being installed would leave Olsen without a role. New England was happily showing the door to highly disappointing former first-rounder Ben Watson, who signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent. Chris Baker, who had oddly been given a five-year deal in 2009, was released just 13 months later.

With only practice squad tight ends on the roster, it made sense for the Patriots to explore all of their options, which included Olsen.

The Bears reportedly perceived the deal as a lock, and expected to acquire one of the Patriots second rounders, which eventually (after a few trades) was used on Rob Gronkowski. New England selected Aaron Hernandez after the Florida Gator fell all the way to the fourth round due to slight character concerns.

Hernandez was originally predicted to be have a larger impact and thought to be more of a finished product coming out of college. Gronkowski hadn't played a snap since his junior season at the University of Arizona due to a back injury, which also raised concerns for teams.

Olsen hauled in 41 receptions for 404 yards and five touchdowns this season, but it's fair to say the Patriots are content with their decision to balk at the trade. Gronkowski emerged as a lethal red zone threat as the season progressed, leading the team with 10 touchdown receptions, and Hernandez added six touchdowns of his own and flashed his open field potential on multiple occasions.

Had the Patriots decided to trade for Olsen prior to the draft, they most likely would have passed on both Gronkowski and Hernandez. They had already signed veteran Alge Crumpler to fill the blocking role, and adding Olsen would have filled their biggest need of a pass-catching tight end. So in hindsight, this non-move was quite important.