Rob Gronkowski’s Age Not Reason for Retirement Talk From Patriots TE

Rob Gronkowski

Getty New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski

The only person who knows if New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will head into retirement after the 2019 Super Bowl is Gronk himself. But his stretch as a go-to target for Tom Brady may very well be coming to an end sooner than later. The chatter around Gronkowski’s potential retirement has ramped up again as of late, but he offered some insight into the looming decision.

Earlier in the postseason, though, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport revealed that not only is Gronkowski set to weigh retirement, but there’s a belief he could opt to follow through with it.

“People who know him do believe he will go the other way this year. In other words, there is a possibility, a strong possibility we’ve seen the last of Rob Gronkowski on the field after the Patriots are out of the playoffs, whenever that ends up being,’’ Rapoport stated.

A Patriots team without Gronkowski would be tough to imagine, as he’s been a staple of the team’s success over the years. After he considered making this move last offseason, though, it’s certainly not unrealistic to believe the 29-year-old could ride off into the sunset in the near future.


Rob Gronkowski’s Possible Retirement Stems From NFL Grind

Ahead of the 2019 Super Bowl, Gronkowski wouldn’t commit to his future plans, saying “yes, no, maybe so,” when asked about retirement, as Boston.com’s Mark Dunphy revealed. What the Patriots tight end did say, is that it’s the day-to-day grind of the NFL and the massive number of hits he’s taken.

“The season’s a grind,” Gronkowski said. “It’s up and down. I’m not going to lie and sit here and say every week is the best. Not at all. You go up, you go down. You can take some serious hits. To tell you the truth, just try and imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life.

“It’s tough, it’s difficult. To take hits to the thigh, take hits to your head. Abusing your body isn’t what your brain wants. When your body is abused, it can bring down your mood. You’ve got to be able to deal with that, too, throughout the season. You’ve got to be able to deal with that in the games.”

It’s apparent that the looming issue comes down to the plethora of big hits Gronkowski takes on a weekly basis. Even at age 29, he’s been incredibly busy over the years as a top weapon in the Patriots’ passing attack. And finally, it seems to have possibly taken a toll on him to the point potential retirement.


Patriots’ Potential Replacements for Rob Gronkowski

When it comes to the Patriots as a whole, there’s always been chatter about who the “next up” will be when players like Brady and Gronkowski retire. And while there’s no clear-cut answer to either, New England will have options when it comes to filling a possible void left by Gronkowski’s departure.

Let’s take a look at a few of the names which jump out as options for Bill Belichick and company.

Dwayne Allen

There’s no better place to start than on the Patriots roster, and the team didn’t acquire Allen without at least the thought of him being a long-term option. After all, the former Indianapolis Colts tight end is playing under a four-year, $29.4 million contract, per Spotrac, so it’s not as if he’s an inexpensive option.

Allen is only under contract through the 2019 season so the Patriots would need to find out quickly if he can be their new go-to option in the passing game. If they don’t believe that to be the case, the 28-year-old can be released ahead of next season with no dead money while freeing up all $7.4 million of his salary in cap space.


Jared Cook

Jared Cook

GettyOakland Raiders TE Jared Cook

On the list of tight ends set to become free agents in 2019, you’ll find Oakland Raiders current veteran Jared Cook. While the Patriots could certainly opt to go younger at the position than the 32-year-old pass-catcher, there’s a tremendous amount of upside that’s been flashed as of late by Cook.

After an up-and-down stretch through the early stages of his career, Cook hit a stride with the Raiders and quarterback Derek Carr. Over the past two seasons, he’s set career-highs in receptions (54 and 68) while putting together a great 2018 campaign. Cook racked up 896 yards and six touchdowns over 16 games this season and was one of the lone bright spots in a tough year for the Raiders.


Additional Options

Maxx Williams from the Baltimore Ravens is an interesting name to watch, as he’s dealt with a few injuries of his own, but the former second-round pick has a lot of talent. He’s totaled 63 receptions for 497 yards and three scores over 38 games, but his rookie season included 32 of those catches for 268 yards.

The Patriots could also choose to look to the NFL draft, as there are a few names who jump out in a solid tight end class. Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam was given a first-round grade by Walter Football and racked up 466 yards and six touchdowns even while missing four games.

Beyond that, Iowa’s Noah Fant is an athletic 6-foot-5 and could come off the board in the early rounds. Alabama pass-catcher Irv Smith Jr. impressed this season by catching 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s played in just 24 total collegiate games and didn’t see extended work as a pass-catcher until 2018 so he could prove to be more of a prospect than the other names.

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