New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed to reporters on Sunday that he considered retiring during the offseason when the team explored trading him to the Detroit Lions.
"Yeah, it happened," Gronkowski said after the 26-10 loss to Detroit. "[Tom] Brady's my quarterback, that's all. Wasn't going anywhere without Brady."
On Monday, Brady said the feeling was mutual when it comes to his star tight end.
"I think that speaks to our relationship and I feel as strongly about him as he does about me. I love the guy," Brady told WEEI on Monday. "He's had a big impact on my career -- personally and professionally. Like I said, I'm very lucky to play with him and we're going to keep fighting."
Earlier on Sunday, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the Patriots and Lions were deep into trade discussions last offseason that peaked during the week of the draft, when the teams nearly completed a blockbuster trade involving Gronkowski.
It wasn't that Gronkowski didn't want to play in Detroit; he didn't want to play anywhere other than New England, sources told Schefter. The Patriots had been discussing a trade with a few teams, and Gronkowski wouldn't have reported to any of them, according to sources.
It was at that point Gronkowski and Patriots officials met, with the two sides discussing a plan for the Pro Bowl tight end to continue playing in New England. The Patriots then called off any proposed trade with the Lions, leaving Detroit disappointed.
The story had a happy ending for Gronkowski and the Patriots, who agreed to a reworked contract in the summer that added $4.3 million in incentives for the 2018 season. He can earn $1 million in per-game roster bonuses, plus a maximum of $3.3 million by hitting three of the following four incentives: 70 or more catches, 1,085 receiving yards, 80 percent playing time or nine or more touchdown catches.
By structuring the deal in this manner, Gronkowski's salary-cap charge for 2018 won't be dramatically affected, as the $3.3 million in incentives won't increase the charge. This marks the second consecutive year the Patriots added incentives to Gronkowski's contract.
ESPN's Mike Reiss contributed to this report.