Tom Brady Anticipates Life Without Rob Gronkowski

Tom Brady Rob Gronkowski

Getty Tom Brady recognizes that Rob Gronkowski really could call it career before the 2022 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady didn’t express blind hope for Rob Gronkowski’s return when talking with the media on June 9.

Brady acknowledged that Gronkowski really might not return for the 2022 season after going the whole offseason thus far without a decision on playing again. Gronkowski, 33, previously retired in 2019 after a plethora of injuries but returned in 2020. Injuries became an issue for Gronkowski again in 2021, and Brady, his longtime teammate, coming back from a 41-day retirement didn’t officially sway him, either.

“I think it’s just, obviously, totally up to him. We’d all love to play with him, but he’s got to make the best decision for himself, and he knows that,” Brady told reporters. “Anybody that cares about him knows that he is doing what’s right for him, which is trying to figure it out.”

“We don’t have training camp for about six weeks, so whatever he has to do to figure it out. I think we will be hopeful if he does. And if he doesn’t, we’ve still got to go out there and figure out what to do.”

Brady already spent minicamp adjusting without key receivers Chris Godwin and Russell Gage due to injuries. The Bucs also didn’t have rookie tight end Cade Otton due to injury.

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Brady Working With Less Familiar Targets

Brady spent significant time building chemistry with other receivers and tight ends in the passing game during minicamp, including 7-on-7 drills on June 9.

“Well, they’ve got a better grasp of the system,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles told reporters on June 9. “We have a complex offensive system and I thought they got better at the system and playing fast. The [mental errors] went down, they started learning the offense and once Training Camp comes, you want to see them in pads. You want to see who can do what in pads and play real football. But, we’re excited about the learning that they accomplished.”

Brady noted that he and Gage need to build chemistry whenever the free agent receiver returns to the field.

“A lot of work. A lot of work,” Brady told reporters. “He has to have a big year. We signed him to a contract and he has to come in and do a great job. In the time I’ve spent with him, I really enjoy it and I think he has a great opportunity. That is a very important role for an offense that throws the ball as much as we do. We have very favorable passing conditions. You need a lot of good receivers.”

Tight Ends Inexperienced Without Gronk

The same could be said for the tight end position group, which Brady didn’t address beyond Gronkowski. Only Cameron Brate has played significant snaps among Bucs tight ends. Otton, Ben Beise, J.J. Howland, and Ko Kieft are all rookies.

Codey McElroy, who has split time between the practice squad and active roster during the past three years, impressed at minicamp but mainly as a blocker. Bowles also pumped the brakes on any excitement surrounding McElroy.

“Well, we’ve got to wait until the pads come on,” Bowles told reporters. “He’s a willing blocker, it’s just more of a technique thing for him. He’s got to get the technique down — he’s a taller guy. So, he’s got to get his leverage down.”