The Buffalo Bills could put aside past hard feelings to go after a big-name tight end in free agency, an insider speculates.
The Bills had one of the league’s most effective passing attacks last season, led by Stefon Diggs in his first career NFL All-Pro season. But while the team had strong play from Diggs and the other wide receivers, they still lacked production from the tight end position, which could lead to what would be a surprising offseason addition.
Bills Could Snag Former Rival
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler suggested that Rob Gronkowski could be an “intriguing” fit for the Bills. The former New England Patriots star is headed to free agency after coming out of retirement to win a Super Bowl with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and could be a fit for the club in need of a tight end. Gronkowski caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns last season, the first of his career away from New England.
The All-Pro tight end already made it clear that he will be playing again in 2021, ending speculation that he could return to retirement after winning his fourth Super Bowl.
“I’m coming back to play football,” Gronkowski told TMZ Sports. “I’m back man. I had a great year last year. Won the championship.”
Though his athleticism had waned from his younger days, Gronkowski returned to form for the Super Bowl, catching six passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns in helping lead the Buccaneers to victory.
Tight End’s History With Buffalo
Gronkowski already has a long history with Buffalo, both good and bad. He was raised in the suburb of Williamsville and was a star high school player through his junior year, when he moved to suburban Pittsburgh for his senior season.
The hometown boy grew into a hated rival during his seasons with the Patriots, reaching a peak in 2017 when he was suspended a game for a late hit that put Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White in the concussion protocol.
Gronkowski tried to mend fences after his retirement, Bleacher Report noted. He donated $500,000 to Oishei Children’s Hospital in 2019 and said he was hoping to do more good in his hometown. Gronkowski said at the time that he received a warm reception when returning home.
“We were out Saturday night, and they were all giving cheers at our charity event, and everything,” he said after returning to Buffalo, via WIVB. “It was cool to finally be accepted, once again, where I grew up. So, I decided to come back and start giving back.”
As Fowler noted, a football homecoming would seem unlikely for Gronkowski as he is expected to return to the Buccaneers for another season with Brady. Gronkowski himself said back in January that he wanted to return, saying that Tampa is built to win now and likely to return strong for the next season.
“I can definitely see this team also having a lot of talent come back and have another successful run next year as well with me,” he said, via Bleacher Report.