Rumors and innuendo regarding Gronk's future have twittered about all offseason. By trading Cooks, the Patriots should put a stop to that, as wiping out Tom Brady's top targets would appear to be a non-starter for win-now New England.
It doesn't appear the Pats were ever very close to trading the game-changing tight end.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo report the Patriots haven't had any trade talks with teams about Gronkowski, and New England is expected to keep him.
While trading a player of Gronk's caliber wouldn't be out of character for coach Bill Belichick -- he's done it plenty of times in the past -- jettisoning a matchup nightmare that opens the entire offense, and represents the best red-zone threat in the NFL, makes little sense on the surface.
The question moving forward will be how many years does Gronk continue to play after flirting with retirement? Will Belichick attempt to pacify his underpaid tight end to keep his chess piece happy or could the uneasiness Gronk displayed last season linger?