We knew something was going on with Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots over the offseason because shortly after the 2017 season we heard rumors that the tight end was mulling retirement, was frustrated with coach Bill Belichick, and might even be on the trade block. Just before the draft, Gronk confirmed he would return in 2018 and just before the start of the season he reworked his contract with the Pats.
Hours later, after the Patriots were outplayed by the Lions on "Sunday Night Football," Gronkowski was asked about the near-trade-turned-retirement threat.
"Yeah, it happened," he admitted, adding, "Brady's my quarterback. I wasn't going anywhere without Brady."
Brady has reportedly had his own issues with with Belichick; according to ESPN's Ian O'Connor's new book, titled "Belichick," the quarterback wanted a "divorce" from his coach of 18 seasons as recently as late March. But like Gronk, Brady got past any issues he might've had with Belichick and all three remain in New England.
But unlike most of the previous century, when the Patriots have been the league's most dominant team, they now find themselves at 1-2 for the first time since 2012. And after coming up short in Detroit, they're on the receiving end of back-to-back losses of at least 10 points for the first time since 2002, which also happens to be the only time New England missed the playoffs with Brady under center. (They also missed the playoffs in 2008, when Matt Cassel started 15 games.)
On Sunday, Brady went 14 of 26 for 133 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Gronkowski was targeted just five times and finished with four catches for 51 yards.