Rob Gronkowski’s future with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not be so certain after all.
As the Buccaneers await the veteran tight end’s official decision regarding a return, they may have received a potential hint of his future. During an Instagram response to Leonard Fournette’s birthday wishes to Gronkowski, the tight end responded — but not in the manner Bucs fans were hoping for.
During the exchange, Fournette gives Gronkowski his birthday wishes — along with mentioning how he’s awaiting Gronk’s return.
Fournette then shares a screenshot of a tweet wondering how many fans will be wearing his jersey this season.
The 33-year-old tight end’s response was one that indicates he’ll be in the stands — rather than the sidelines — entering the 2022 season.
“I’ll represent a 7 jersey in the stands for ya,” Gronkowski replied on Sunday, May 15.
Gronkowski Still Undecided on Return
Back in April, the veteran tight end said he hadn’t come to a decision yet regarding a return.
“So if I’m not all in to do that, then I’m not going to put myself out there in that situation,” he said. “But if I’m feeling that, if I want to go knock my head around, you know, put my body on the line, if I feel like doing that again, miss that, I would certainly sign another contract.”
Although he has yet to make a decision on a possible 12th season, Gronkowski did make sure to stress back in April that he’ll only return for another season with the Buccaneers.
“The Buccaneers situation is just too good if I decide to go back and play,” Gronkowski told SB Nation. “Like I said, I love all my teammates there. They are all great teammates and all selfless players, they are there for the team and what’s best for the team and the whole organization. If I do play football again, it’ll be for the Bucs.”
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Bucs Prepared to Move on Without Gronkowski
Gronkowski is coming off of his best campaign in years. Despite being limited to just 12 of 17 games due to a nagging rib injury, the Bucs’ starting tight end posted 55 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns. His reception and receiving yards totals were at its highest since the 2017 season with the New England Patriots.
Assuming Gronkowski doesn’t return, it appears the Buccaneers have prepared themselves for that scenario. Not only is longtime Bucs tight end Cameron Brate returning, the team also spent two draft selections on tight ends during the 2022 NFL draft — fourth-round pick Cade Otton and sixth-round pick Ko Kieft — to round out the depth chart.
Bucs head coach Todd Bowles even recently remarked that there is no timetable regarding Gronkowski’s decision.
“Bucs HC Todd Bowles says it’s ‘status quo’ with Rob Gronkowski, who remains undecided about whether to play in 2022,” said Stroud on Friday, May 13. “He said he’s been no timetable when Gronk will make a decision.”
Considering Gronkowski’s playful personality, this could very well just be a swerve to keep fans guessing on what his next move is.
But given Gronkowski is a four-time Super Bowl champion with very little left to prove on the gridiron, there’s also the realistic possibility we may have seen the last of the tight end.
As we enter offseason activities across the league, we’ll see what Gronkowski’s decision ultimately turns out to be.