As the NFL world prepares for the official retirement announcement from Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers must get ready to overhaul the entire franchise before the start of the 2022 NFL season.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to reunite with former New England Patriots teammate in Tampa Bay, and together, they led the Buccaneers to win Super Bowl LV. Gronkowski then signed a one-year, $10 million contract, which means he’s now a free agent.
With Brady out of the picture, there’s speculation the veteran tight end will leave Tampa Bay and join another team with a superstar quarterback — the Buffalo Bills.
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Before Gronkowski re-signed with the Bucs last season, it was reported that the Bills, who were in the business of looking to sign a tight end, made an offer to the 6-foot-6 offensive stud. News 4 Buffalo reporter Matt Parrino tweeted on Saturday, January 29, “Now with Tom Brady retiring, interested to see if Rob Gronkowski considers playing with Josh Allen. He said Bills were in the mix last year.”
While there’s a good chance Gronk decides to retire again, this time alongside Brady, based on his comments after the Bucs lost 30-27 to the Los Angeles Rams in the postseason, there’s a solid chance he stays in the league.
The future Hall-of-Famer told TMZ right after the Bucs’ narrow loss to the Rams, “If they’re like, ‘Rob, you’ve got to decide right now, right this second if you’re playing next year,’ I would be like, ‘No, I’m not playing,'” he said with a laugh.
“You’ve got to give it some time, you’ve got to rest to see how everything goes, to see how everything plays out, how I feel. I just want to heal completely, see where my thoughts are from there then.”
Gronkowski reiterated, “If I had to answer right now, it would be no,” before adding, “But you never know. In three weeks, it might be yes!”
But What About Tight End Dawson Knox?
The Bills’ need for a tight end is significantly less than last season with Dawson Knox having an absolute breakout season through 2021. After a stellar regular season, where the third-year receiver caught 49 receptions for 587 yards and nine touchdowns, the 25-year-old made NFL history by catching two touchdown catches in the first quarter of a playoff game.
Knox doesn’t have to worry about job security, the former third-round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft is about to enter the final year of his 4-year, $3.5 million contract with the Bills, and he should be in line for a sizable pay bump.
However, if the price is right and Gronk is available, signing him would seem to be a no-brainer decision. Under Gronkowski’s tutelage, Knox’s game could grow and improve exponentially. Plus, Gronk still has some fight in him. He finished the 2021 NFL season with 55 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns.
Bills Fans Haven’t Forgotten Gronk’s Nasty Hit on Tre’Davious White
While the idea of Gronkowski becoming one of Allen’s offensive weapons sounds good on paper, numerous Bills fans balked at the idea, as they haven’t forgotten his nasty hit on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White in 2017, after which he was suspended for one game.
During the AFC East rivalry showdown between the Bills and the Patriots, White intercepted Brady’s pass while covering Gronkowski, after which the tight end dropped an elbow on White.
“He could have broken my neck,” White said, who suffered a concussion from the nasty hit. “I’ve got a son to raise. People don’t think about that when they react.”
Adding salt to White’s wound, Patriots Wire reported in January 2022 saying that he has zero regrets on that late hit.
“I was happy,” Gronkowski of the suspension. “I was like, ‘Yes, I’m away from football for a week. I get to recover my body.’ I mean, when you’re running full speed into people, it definitely was taking a toll on me… I lost a paycheck — it was about $300,000, that game check — and I didn’t even care one bit. I was just glad I had a week off from football because I needed it.”
With the Gronkowski to Buffalo rumors heating up again on Saturday, a Bills fan tweeted in response to the rumors of Gronk possibly landing in Buffalo, “Please no. I’ll never forgive him for the hit on tre. Spend money elsewhere.”
Other Bills fans were ready to let bygones be bygones. “I can’t stand that guy, but I want the Bills to load up on talent for a run this year,” one man tweeted. “Whatever Beane decides is fine with me. We are going to get some talented players cheap because they are going to want to play with Allen.”