That’s led to some hope of Gronkowski, 30, changing his mind with four months away from the field and his body recovering from the grind of another NFL season. But he put a stop to that speculation before it could develop into full-blown rumors of a comeback.
Speaking to reporters at Sunday’s One Missions Buzz Off for Kids With Cancer event at Gillette Stadium, Gronkowski addressed any burgeoning rumors of returning for a 10th season, insisting that he’s enjoying retirement and participating in social events where he can have fun.
“Whatever I say, it doesn’t matter,” said Gronkowski. “It will always be crazy out there. You can put them to rest, yes. I’m feeling good, I’m in a good place.”
Maybe Gronk should let his former quarterback know. Tom Brady contributed to the comeback speculation by commenting on an Instagram post that he hopes Gronkowski’s career touchdown total isn’t finished at 78.
Speculation isn’t going to end with Gronkowski’s statement, of course. As agent Drew Rosenhaus recently pointed out, if the Patriots’ offense was stalling at any point during the 2019 season and Gronk’s return could make a difference, there’s nothing preventing him from making a comeback during the regular season.
The Patriots signed Ben Watson in hopes of him being the starter at tight end. Even at 38, he’s coming off a productive 2018 season with 35 catches for 400 yards. However, Watson has been suspended for the first four games of the 2019 campaign after testing positive for PEDs. Maybe there’s a bright side in Watson sitting out four games if it keeps him fresher through the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. But his absence stalls any solution for the Patriots’ offense.
Other roster additions who could make contributions include Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo and undrafted rookie Andrew Beck. The Patriots’ approach to replacing their star tight end might be opting for quantity over quality.
Gronkowski quashing a comeback for now will also likely add heat to rumors that the Patriots could make a trade for an impact player at tight end like the Minnesota Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph. However, Rudolph is currently in talks about a five-year extension with the Vikings.