Immediately following the New England Patriots trade of Demaryius Thomas, retired tight end Rob Gronkowski added to the drama.
With an available roster spot following the trade, Gronkowski sent out the ‘eye emojis’ in a quick tweet.
There is no context behind the tweet and it was not sent in reaction to anything else. The message was not immediately followed up by anything and for now, it is only speculation. But it certainly is an interesting message that soon after the Patriots traded away Thomas.
New England’s roster sits at 52 for the time being, with only two of those roster spots occupied by a tight end. With a need at the position and Gronkowski feeling as good physically as he has in years, this could be the perfect time for Gronkowski to make his return to the field.
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Whether he would immediately be available is unlikely and he has previously noted it would take at least a month for Gronk to get himself back in playing shape. But if he were to begin those preparations now he could be ready by the start of October.
Patriots Tight End Situation
The Patriots have just two tight ends on the active roster at the moment — Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo.
Both were active for the season opener against the Steelers, though LaCosse never played a snap as he was limited during the week of practice still recovering from an ankle injury. It has been over a month now since he suffered an ankle injury in the Patriots’ preseason opener but LaCosse has still been dealing with the effects of his ailment.
As for Izzo, he looked good in a blocking posture but didn’t get a ton of looks in the receiving game. After missing all of 2018 to injury, Izzo made a late push for a roster spot and impressed over the latter half of preseason working with Tom Brady.
The Patriots still have Ben Watson to lean on when he returns from suspension. Watson also came out of retirement over the offseason and rejoined the Patriots, a team he started his NFL career with back in 2004.
Watson will be the team’s top tight end upon his return in Week 5, but until then the Patriots are patching things together at the position utilizing full back James Develin in an extended capacity as well.
The Jason Witten Effect?
Gronk would join Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and his teammate Watson in players who recently came back out of retirement to rejoin the NFL.
Gronkowski needed some time to recover from a host of nagging injuries he sustained over the course of his career. Constantly taking heavy hits, Gronkowski’s hiatus from football and the offseason routine that goes with it was the best thing for him. Now, we wait to see if his comeback is actually closer than anyone ever expected.