According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the teams nearly completed a deal on draft week, but he refused to take calls from the Lions organization and threatened to retire, leading the Pats and Gronkowski to work things out.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport initially reported two weeks ago on Gronkowski's threat to retire rather than be traded, but Schefter added that the Lions were the team looking to acquire the All-Pro tight end:
Gronkowski would have been surrounded by some familiar faces in Detroit, as head coach Matt Patricia was the Patriots' defensive coordinator and general manager Bob Quinn is a former Pats executive.
Instead of the trade, Gronkowski and New England agreed to a restructured contract that added $4.3 million and several incentives to his deal for the 2018 season, per Schefter:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Patriots reworked TE Rob Gronkowski’s contract, adding $4.3 million to his contract this year, per @RosenhausSports Added $1 million in per game bonuses and $3.3 million in incentives, boosting max value to $13.050 million. Similar to Tom Brady structure. https://t.co/XYy6xIg5Iu
The 29-year-old Gronkowski has spent his entire, nine-year NFL career in New England.
He is a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro first team selection and two-time Super Bowl champion who has all the makings of a future Hall of Famer.
Gronkowski is one of the top pass-catchers in Patriots history, ranking fifth in receptions (483), third in receiving yards (7,317) and first in touchdown catches (77).
In two games this season, he has made nine grabs for 138 yards and a touchdown.
On Sunday night Gronkowski will face the team he was nearly traded to, as the Lions will host the Patriots at Ford Field in Detroit.