Patriots reportedly shopped Rob Gronkowski to only these four 'teams they trust'

Here's what we know: Rob Gronkowski is still a member of the Patriots. After speculation this offseason that he might retire or be traded, the tight end remains in New England.

Gronk squashed the retirement talk in April when he confirmed he planned to play in 2018. But the trade rumors took on a life of their own earlier this month when the Boston Herald's Adam Kurkjian tweeted this:

This prompted Patriots owner Robert Kraft to call the rumors "a bunch of hogwash." On Monday, TheMMQB.com's Albert Breer added some context to a weird-even-by-Patriots-standards offseason.

"I don't think they were shopping Gronk to the entire league, but there were some teams they trust that I know they talked to. Detroit, Tennessee, Houston, San Francisco — you guys can make the connections there," Breer said during an appearance on "The Herd With Colin Cowherd," via NESN.com.

The "connection"? Belichick has ties to those four teams. In Detroit, general manager Bob Quinn and first-year coach Matt Patricia previously worked for the Pats. First-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel played for Belichick in New England and was the defensive coordinator for the Texans, where Bill O'Brien, another former Belichick assistant, is coach. The Pats traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers last October, and Belichick has long respected Mike Shanahan, the father of San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan.

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio adds that there were other teams on this list, though it's unclear how many. For now it doesn't matter, though that could change. Remember, there was an ESPN.com report from April that said Gronkowski was having issues with Belichick. And in March, NBC Sports in Boston reported that the tight end felt "singled out" and "persecuted" by the coaching staff during the 2017 season. Another report from March suggested that Belichick was making Gronkowski "miserable" last year.

Meanwhile, Breer indicates Gronkowski's desire for a new contract this offseason was the driving force behind the trade talks.

"This kind of came to a point where he sort of disengaged from the program and asked for a raise," Breer said. " ... [T]here was this bizarre press conference before that monster truck rally that Gronk had. That sort of served as the 'All right, we need to get him in here now and need a sit-down talk with him because this can't keep going the way it's going.' 

"So Bill has Gronk in, and at that point, Bill had some discussions about trading him and Gronk sat down with Bill and all indications I got was that Gronk basically affirmed to Bill he wants to be a Patriot. That's when they decided 'OK, we're gonna try to work out contract terms and go forward with this thing," but there was a come to Jesus moment."

Gronkowski has two years left on his current deal and his $8 million base salary in 2018 is second among all tight ends, behind only Jordan Reed

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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