Patriots Mailbag: Is It Time To Trade Rob Gronkowski After Latest Injury?

The New England Patriots were doing such a good job of avoiding long-term injuries until Thursday. That all came crashing down when the Patriots determined superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski would need surgery to fix a herniated disc in his back.

Now the Patriots and their fans are left picking up the pieces. Can the Patriots still win the Super Bowl? Yes.

How will they replace Gronkowski? With Martellus Bennett.

What happens if his injuries worsen? You don’t want to know.

Watch above and read below for more answers to your burning questions in this week’s mailbag.

@DougKyed due to gronks injury history, will the patriots try to move on from him in 2017?
— @BThomps81
If anything, this latest injury and subsequent surgery might keep Gronkowski in New England for another year. He’s far and away the best tight end in the NFL, but how much would a team be willing to give up for a tight end who gets hurt every single season?

I mean, if a team wants to give up a first-round pick for Gronkowski, I’m sure the Patriots would consider taking it. But for anything less than that, it doesn’t feel smart to move on from an otherworldly playmaker. Gronkowski has a $7 million cap hit in 2017 followed by an $11 million hit in 2018 and a $12 million hit in 2019. It seems more plausible the Patriots could part ways with Gronkowski in 2018 or 2019, but it depends on whether he can stay healthy in 2017.

If Gronkowski had stayed healthy for the remainder of the 2016 season, it would have been easier to move him. At this point, any other team rightly would have serious questions about giving up a considerable bounty for his services.

@DougKyed Does this latest Gronk injury increase the likeliness of Pats resigning Bennett?
— @JBoss_
Yes. Definitely.

Trading for Bennett might look like one of Bill Belichick’s smartest moves before the season is over and done with. Bennett gives the Patriots valuable insurance for Gronkowski. The Patriots would be, for lack of a better word, screwed without Bennett this season. Their offense now won’t take as great of a hit without Gronkowski.

@DougKyed are you ready for the drastic mood swings of wins and losses in NE post Gronk injury? #MailDoug
— @SeanB812
No. No, not at all. But perhaps Gronkowski’s injury will distract them from complaining about the defense so incessantly.

With Gronk out, do you see them promoting a backup TE or changing styles with Bennett as the only TE? #MailDoug
— @StephenPorier
Going with Bennett as the only tight end wouldn’t be a drastic change in style, it would just force him to take on a bigger role. The Patriots only have used Gronkwoski and Bennett on the field at the same time for 27 percent of offensive snaps. The Patriots have spent the majority of their snaps with three wide receivers anyway, so that will continue after Gronkowski’s injury. The Patriots just will have fewer formations to choose from.

Bennett, along with wide receivers Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan, will have to step up the most in Gronkowski’s absence.

@DougKyed How do you feel about Dante Pettis as a Huskies fan? He’s pretty versatile. Does he fit the Patriots. #MailDoug
— @SamAlzahawi
I’m a big fan of Pettis’ game. He has 14 receiving touchdowns, two punt returns for touchdowns and a passing touchdown this season for the University of Washington. It will be interesting to see if Pettis declares for the NFL Draft this offseason. He has good size at 6-foot-1, 183 pounds and plenty of playmaking ability.

@DougKyed how much will AJ Derby be missed now?
— @x_Wonder_Woman_
The Patriots sent tight end AJ Derby to the Denver Broncos for a fifth-round draft pick before the trade deadline. He’ll be missed because he’s a bigger receiving threat than current backup Matt Lengel, but the Patriots knew the risk when they traded him. It’s not as if the Patriot’s weren’t unaware Gronkowski is injury prone.

It seems the Patriots knew they would have to heavily rely on just one tight end if Gronkowski or Bennett suffered major injuries anyway. Derby isn’t an experienced blocker either, which likely influenced their decision to move him. He’ll be missed, however, especially if Bennett’s ankle or shoulder injuries get worse.

@DougKyed would have been nice if Pats waited in moving Derby. With banged up TEs any chance of an add? Marcel Reese an option? #MailDoug
— @BryanThiel_88
I’d like to see what Reece could give the Patriots’ offense. However, he’s more of a fullback or H-back than a tight end. It’s unclear how Reece would mix into the offense with Bennett, Dion Lewis, James White and James Develin already on the squad.

@DougKyed #maildoug seems like Van Noy’s snaps are going up..could he start playing Collins old role since he was in coverage
— @JonathanW024
Linebacker Kyle Van Noy essentially is playing the role Collins would have played if he had stayed with the Patriots as a passing-down specialist. The Patriots are using Shea McClellin on early downs against the run.

I’d be a little surprised if Van Noy became an every-down defender since he’s still relatively new to the defense. He’s playing very well in the passing game, however, and he hasn’t been a liability against the run.

Van Noy’s role has flipped since he was acquired from the Lions. He was more of an early-down specialist in Detroit. He could become a full-time player next season.

@DougKyed #MailDoug To consider that the Pats D played well, how many points can the Rams have scored?
— @MrQuindazzi
The Rams are averaging 15.5 points per game with Jared Goff at quarterback and on the season. So, 13 or fewer, let’s say?

Let’s go rapid fire:

@DougKyed who is the weirdest patriots beat reporter?
— @Akylle
Me? Tom E. Curran? Trags?

@DougKyed sup? #MailDoug
— @June__NYC
It was a pretty crazy day with the Rob Gronkowski news. Watching “Thursday Night Football.” That’s about it.

@DougKyed If you could have any animal in the world as your obedient pet, which would you choose? #MailDoug
— @ELeBoeuf
I know the popular answer would be a lion or tiger or grizzly bear or something, but it would be a giant pain to own a 500-plus-pound animal. Imagine how much you would have to spend on food?

I’ll go with a red panda. Those are ridiculously cute.

Having a wolf or a fox would be cool too.

@DougKyed How’d you come up with that hashtag?
— @jeffphowe
I think my boss, Justin Hathaway, came up with #MailDoug. Shout out to Justin.

@DougKyed Who plays running back for the Pats? Asking for a friend #MailDoug
— @DavidLatham14

I think we’ve discovered Jeff Fisher’s secret Twitter account.

It will never not be funny that Jeff Fisher couldn’t think of Lewis and White’s names this week. It’s even funnier that the Rams tried to defend him.

@DougKyed Since it’s December, have yoy watched Home Alone yet? #MailDoug
— @June__NYC
Of course. Only once so far, though, which seems pretty low for Dec. 2. I have to pick up my game.

@DougKyed thoughts on ‘Die Hard’ as a Christmas movie? (Of course it is.) #MailDoug
— @StephenMWarren
It’s a great movie, and it’s definitely technically a Christmas movie, it’s just not very festive.

@DougKyed what are the chances the Patriots go Defense in next years first round of the draft ?
— @jasproemelt
Pretty good, since the Patriots have gone defense with their top pick in the draft for the last five years and nine of the last 10 seasons.

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images

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