Could the Denver Broncos trade for Rob Gronkowski?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Rob Gronkowski /

Could the Denver Broncos trade for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski? We explore the option and how John Elway could make it work…

The Denver Broncos have been one of the more active teams this offseason on the NFL trade market, wheeling and dealing the likes of Aqib Talib, Trevor Siemian, and bringing in players like Jared Veldheer and Su’a Cravens.

Could the Broncos be among the teams that would make an offer to the Patriots for tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is reportedly going to be on the move in the next couple of weeks?

It’s probably not likely, but we are going to look at this possibility for a variety of reasons.

First of all, the Broncos and Patriots have come together on a trade in recent years, with the Patriots sending over tight end A.J. Derby for a fifth round pick. Despite Derby’s incredible one-handed catch this past season for a touchdown, the Patriots seem to have won that round.

Second, the Broncos need a veteran tight end. They could probably get someone for pennies on the dollar compared to Gronkowski, but financially, they can make this work, even with the high signing bonus set to go out to their top five rookie.

Third, the Broncos have someone of value the Patriots may actually be interested in trading for, already armed with three picks in the top two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Let’s look at some of the important details and project a possible trade and some corresponding moves that would allow for the Broncos to make this work.

The Price of Gronk

The Patriots will pay Gronkowski a small portion of his remaining salary, as his contract is mostly base salary rather than bonuses at this point. The Broncos would have to be willing to take on a cap hit just under $9 million this year, meaning there would likely be some corresponding roster moves (Denver could free up roughly the exact amount of cap space required for Gronk by trading or releasing C.J. Anderson and Menelik Watson).

Next season, Gronk would cost the Broncos (or any trading team) about $10 million on the cap. That’s a hefty price to pay for a tight end whose career was reportedly in jeopardy, but if you can get even just two years of a healthy Gronk, it might be worth the price.

Trading for Gronk

Not only will you have to pay up for Gronk, but you’ll have to give up something of value to get him. The Broncos could dangle a third round pick at the Patriots (they have two) and not think twice about it, or they could shave some money off their 2018 salary cap and give the Patriots something they value in a trade.

The Broncos are coming to a crossroads with their edge rushers. Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett in particular both have one year remaining on their contracts. Barrett was just tendered by the Broncos at nearly $3 million this season. He has yet to sign that tender.

Ray is in the final year of his rookie deal, but the Broncos can exercise an option for next season at around $8.7 million if they want, which is fully guaranteed for injury.

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I would propose the Broncos try and trade Barrett to the Patriots for Gronkowski, even though some Broncos fans may hate that idea. Even if Barrett does come back this year, there’s no guarantee he’d be in Denver for the long haul. The Broncos should hold out for good value, since if/when he leaves, the Broncos would likely net a third or fourth round compensatory pick for him.

If you can trade Barrett for Gronk straight up, would either team say no?

That could drastically improve both teams.

It can work

Financially, the Broncos can make this work. As far as making a trade, there are ways that both teams can benefit and upgrade positions of need.

The Broncos would likely release or trade players like Anderson, Watson, and perhaps Jeff Heuerman to make this trade happen, but imagine how drastically improved their offense could be by making this move.

Denver’s cap space will increase next offseason and they have flexibility to take some aging players off of the books if they need to. They can also do some re-structuring to fit this type of move under the cap.

Like I said at the top, it’s probably not likely to happen, but if Gronk is on the block, the Patriots are probably confident enough in their own brand that they wouldn’t care too much about sending him to Denver.