Rob Gronkowski wants to come out of retirement, but according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, he has informed the New England Patriots that he wants to be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to re-unite with Tom Brady.
Rapoport Says Gronkowski Wants to Reunite with Tom Brady
According to Rapoport, Gronk has already started training for a return to the gridiron and Brady would welcome the reunion in Tampa Bay.
Gronkowski is Apparently Taking this Serious
Apparently, the Patriots are willing to deal Gronkowski, and a trade is already being discussed between the two teams. Per Rapoport, this could happen quickly.
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The Patriots are Reportedly Onboard with the Trade Concept
In fact, according to Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, Gronkowski has already taken a physical with the Bucs, and if everything checks out, the future Hall-of-Fame tight end will be back in the NFL in 2020, and he’ll be playing for the Bucs.
This is quite a gut punch for many Patriots fans. Not only will they need to get over the departure of Brady, but some may view Gronk’s return and trade demand as betrayal. They’re losing arguably the two biggest offensive weapons the team has had during the second half of the 20-year reign as the premier franchise in the NFL.
How Much Does Gronkowski Have Left in His Tank?
Gronkowski turns 31 in May. He has played nine seasons in the NFL, all previously with the Patriots. He retired from the NFL ahead of the 2019 season, but the Patriots still have his rights.
Therefore, if he returns to the NFL, which it appears is imminent, he has to play for the Pats, or the team must trade him–which also seems to be a matter of when.
At 31 years old, and especially with a year off to allow his body to heal from a variety of injuries, Gronkowski could and should still be able to perform at a high level. Durability will likely be the biggest concern.
Gronkowski missed 13 games over his last three seasons, and his production suffered a bit. He averaged just about four receptions per game in his last three seasons compared to 4.75 catches per contest prior.
Gronkowski’s speed, size, experience, and hands still figure to make him a great weapon in the passing game. His presence will also generate a sense of familiarity for Brady. The two developed excellent chemistry during their time in New England, and the Bucs will hope they can pick up where they left off in 2018.
Acquiring Gronkowski may make Bucs tight end O.J. Howard expendable. However, there is also a chance it could give the Bucs the kind of tight-end tandem the Patriots had when Gronkowski and the troubled Aaron Hernandez racked up serious offensive production in 2011.