Rob Gronkowski has made his final decision on a return.
As initially reported by NFL insider Jordan Schultz and later confirmed by Gronkowski himself, the 33-year-old tight end is calling it a career. Gronkowski had spent the past two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after initially returning after his first retirement during the 2020 offseason.
“Breaking: Rob Gronkowski tells me he’s retiring,” reported Schultz on Tuesday, June 21. “The future first ballot Hall of Famer won four Super Bowls while earning a spot on the NFL’s 100th Anniversary Team and 2010s All-Decade Team. An all-time great officially hangs em up at 33 years old.”
Gronkowski announced his retirement shortly after Schultz’s report over Instagram.
“I want to thank the whole entire first class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team. I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field,” Gronkowski said”
Gronkowski Waffled Back and Forth on Retirement
Gronkowski had previously hinted at a return to Tampa Bay once his own longtime teammate, Tom Brady, called off his own short retirement by announcing his return in March. In fact, the veteran tight end stated that if he were to return to play another season, it would only be with the Buccaneers.
However, he also hinted at a retirement during a social media exchange with Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette back in May.
Despite dealing with rib injuries over the course of the 2021 season, the veteran tight end posted his best production since the 2017 season with the New England Patriots. Gronkowski posted 55 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns last season. Across two years with Tampa Bay, Gronkowski caught 100 passes for 1,425 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-6, tight end will go down in NFL history as one of the best players ever at his position and arguably the most dominant receiving tight end ever at his peak. Gronkowski ends his 11-season career with four Super Bowl titles, four First-Team All-Pro selections and five Pro Bowl selections.
Longtime Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate is projected to replace Gronkowski as the team’s starting tight end, with rookies Cade Cotton and Ko Kieft expected to back him up.
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Rosenhaus: Gronkowski Could Still Return in 2022 or 2023
While the announcement of Gronk’s retirement is still settling in, his agent Drew Rosenhaus is already leaving the door open on a possible return if his longtime teammate, Brady, gives him a call this season.
“It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call,” Drew Rosenhaus told Adam Schefter of ESPN. “This is just my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.”
If the Buccaneers are seeking a little bit of help at tight end for another postseason run, it wouldn’t shock anyone to see Gronkowski come out of retirement for a second time to aid in the Buccaneers’ quest for another Super Bowl.