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Bedard: Rob Gronkowski’s possible trade market, and other final meetings thoughts

What we were able to pick up on the status of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, the possibility of a trade, the potential suitors (with one obvious one) and what he could bring in return.

(Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

SOMEWHERE ALONG I-4 BETWEEN ORLANDO AND TAMPA — As we leave the NFL annual meetings and make our way for the Red Sox’ season opener, I figured we’d empty out the notebook on a few different topics, including Josh McDaniels‘ status with other NFL clubs, the new targeting rule, and where the Patriots’ drama stands. But we’ll lead off on what we were able to pick up on the status of Rob Gronkowski, the possibility of a trade, the potential suitors (with one obvious one) and what he could bring in return.

  • Tried to dig a little to see where things stand with Gronkowski and where things might go. Drew Rosenhaus, Gronkowski’s agent, said he didn’t have an update. When I told him all I’ve heard is that I hear he keeps popping into the facility to workout and that seems to be a good sign, Rosenhaus hesitated for a second and then again said he doesn’t have an update.
  • I’ve dealt with Rosenhaus for a long time, especially when I covered the Dolphins when it seemed like he represented half the roster. I took his second non-answer as, “Rob still hasn’t given me any direction yet, so I can’t say if his working out is a good or negative sign.”
  • Gronkowski contemplating leaving the game has been a serious option. I continue to hear it’s not a contract ploy, that the toll it’s taken on his body and the pain he endures has become a serious issue.
  • Asked various front office executives if they’ve heard if Gronkowski is on the trade block, including those who could be viewed as Belichick-friendly. All of them said they haven’t heard a word on that.
  • A Bill Belichick-friendly source agreed with my thinking that once a player makes Belichick start to contemplate life without him, Belichick starts to warm to being without that player. “He imagines you gone,” he said. The longer Gronkowski goes without saying he’s all in, the chances of him being traded increases, the source said.
  • Sources from two teams that would make sense for Gronkowski said they absolutely would be interested if Belichick called. “He’d be perfect for us,” one said.
  • Likely haul in return: possible late first-round pick if the team has it, but more likely a high second-rounder and a third.
  • In terms of the most likely team to deal for Gronkowski, everyone agreed the 49ers would be the ideal trade partner. “Put him back with (Jimmy) Garoppolo, they have nothing at tight end, they have the cap space ($46 million) and maybe (John) Lynch will overpay to make up for the deal Belichick gave him on Jimmy,” one AFC general manager said. “And you don’t have to worry about Gronk in your conference.”
  • Others said not to discount the Rams. “He’d make way more sense than (Odell) Beckham,” an NFC GM said. Texans with Bill O’Brien would also make sense but, one source said, “I doubt Belichick would send him in conference, even though he loves Billy.”
  • If you think his jilting of the Colts has left Josh McDaniels toxic to owners in the NFL, you’d be wrong. Biggest reason: if you think this past hiring cycle lacked many good candidates, try to think of one good one for 2019. You can’t.
  • And then there’s this: McDaniels has kept in touch with the coaches he intended to bring on staff with Indianapolis, and has not ruled out being a candidate again in 2019.
  • On the targeting/crown of helmet rule: I’m going to reserve judgment until there’s an actual rule. But the movement to take those plays out of the game where players use their helmets as weapons — we’re talking 10-20 per season — is long overdue. A linebacker should not be allowed to pursue a running back, for example, load up and hit him helmet to helmet (Brandon Spikes did this a few times for Patriots; the Steelers are one of the worst offenders as well), which is allowed under the current rules. Anything that takes the head out of tackling is good for the game, from the pros to peewee football.
  • As the Patriots turn: according to a source, things still aren’t completely settled between Belichick, Tom Brady and Robert Kraft but the hope is “the meeting” was a good step in the right direction.