Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski has made up his mind that he’ll be playing in the 2021 season.
“I’m coming back to play football,” Gronkowski told TMZ Sports on Tuesday. “I’m back man. I had a great year last year. Won the championship.”
“Even if we didn’t win it all, I tell you this, I was coming back to play football again this year because I had a blast last year,” Gronkowski added. “I’m super excited already for the season next year.”
Gronkowski came out of retirement in 2020 to join the Bucs with former New England Patriots teammate Tom Brady. The Patriots traded Gronkowski’s contract rights to the Bucs with one year left on his contract.
The five-time Pro Bowler, who dealt with several significant injuries during his career, retired in 2019 after playing nine seasons for the Patriots. Brady encouraged him to return after signing with the Bucs as a free agent in March 2020.
Gronkowski will become a free agent on March 17 if the Bucs don’t re-sign him.
The four-time All-Pro didn’t discuss his future with the Bucs directly during the TMZ Sports interview. However, he provided a possible clue when he talked about his latest off-field endeavor — becoming the first pro athlete to make digital non-fungible token (NFT) trading cards, per Fox Business’ Ryan Gaydos.
Gronkowski made four cards commemorating his Super Bowl wins with the Patriots and Bucs. The Rob Gronkowski Championship Series NFTs — 87 of each of the four cards — will be auctioned off on March 11, according to GronkNFT.com, along with “the crown jewel of the drop … a rare one-of-one Gronk career highlight refractor card celebrating four of my championships, baby, and the winner of that auction will get to attend one of my games next season and meet me in person, too,” he told TMZ Sports.
“And I’m hoping that we’re going to have to make a fifth card,” Gronkowski told TMZ Sports. “And then, we’re going to have to make another special edition card because we’re going to have to add the fifth championship, so it’s five championships on that card.”
Until then, Gronkowski has training for next season to do, which he just started after taking three weeks off, he told TMZ Sports.
“Actually four days ago I just started training,” Gronkowski said. “Let me tell you, I was a little bit sore the first day of training, but I bounced back like that, and I’m feeling good. I just got a message this morning because I worked out four days in a row.”
Gronkowski on Bucs Title Run
Gronkowski did his job — blocking or catching passes — all season and credited his teammates, during this TMZ Sports interview, for doing the same amid their championship run in 2020.
“I mean, just look at the team we had. We had so much talent at every position,” Gronkowski said on TMZ Sports. “The guys were all great guys, and let me tell you, there was no one that was selfish on our team. And that’s what helped us win a championship man.”
Tampa had loads of offensive talent with former Pro Bowlers in Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and LeSean McCoy. Leonard Fournette went at the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Ronald Jones II went in the early second round in 2018. Gronkowski noted in his TMZ Sports interview that no one touched the ball as much as they would like.
“But that’s what made us great is that, you know, no one cared,” Gronkowski said. “Everyone just wanted to do what they needed to do.”
No Bucs offensive player made the Pro Bowl — just linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul on defense. Gronkowski had a statistically sound season in 2020 amid all of Brady’s targets. Gronkowski caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns, his highest touchdown total since 2017.
He did more blocking early on in the NFC playoffs and didn’t have a catch in the Wild Card round and just two catches for 43 yards in the following two rounds.
“Like who cares. I did my job. I was blocking and everything. I wasn’t worried,” Gronkowski told TMZ Sports. “I knew my time would come, you know, if it was the second playoff game [or] if it was the Super Bowl.”
Gronkowski’s time came in the Super Bowl, catching two touchdowns from Brady. It made them the top quarterback-receiver duo for touchdowns in the playoffs all-time.
“And everyone did their job throughout the whole playoffs,” Gronkowski told TMZ Sports. “Everyone showed up when they needed to. And that’s what made us a great team. That’s what made us win a championship game.”