Boston Sports Journal's Greg A. Bedard (h/t The Big Lead's Bobby Burack) spoke to a "Bill Belichick-friendly source" who said the Patriots head coach would be more receptive to the idea of trading Gronkowski the longer the five-time Pro Bowler leaves his future an open question.
Following New England's 41-33 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII, Gronkowski told reporters he was "gonna sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where I'm at," per Henry McKenna of USA Today:
Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told Bedard Tuesday he has no update on Gronkowski's status for next season.
Belichick addressed the situation last Sunday at the NFL owners meeting but didn't offer much insight into either his or Gronkowski's thinking.
"I'm not going to speak for anybody else," Belichick said, per the Boston Globe's Jim McBride. "So, conversations I've had with the players, and I've had a lot of them, I'll keep those private between myself and the player. I respect those coach-to-player conversations. I don't want to speak for anyone else."
The Patriots' draft strategy could be instructive about where they see Gronkowski fitting into their 2018 plans. Unless New England is willing to take a flier on Antonio Gates or Julius Thomas, the draft would be the easiest way for the team to find a replacement for Gronkowski.
Should the Patriots go through the middle of the draft without selecting a tight end, it would seemingly be a sign they envision Gronkowski sticking around for next year.