Gronkowski wants former New England Patriots teammate and wide receiver Julian Edelman to join him in Tampa. However, the star tight made the request humorously.
“If Julian [Edelman signs with the Bucs right now, I’m coming back for a whole year. Hands down,” Gronkowski jokingly told Sports Illustrated on Sunday, May 1. “I was just with him last night, and he needs to sign with the Bucs.”
Edelman, 35, retired after the 2020 amid a nagging knee injury and only six games played that year, but before his retirement, he joked about joining the Bucs on April 1, 2021. Gronkowski and fellow former Patriots teammate and Bucs quarterback Tom Brady took the bait. The two Bucs stars publicly pressured Edelman, albeit humorously, to come out of retirement in 2021.
It reached the point where Edelman finally shot down the rumors of a return and said on “The Michael Irvin Podcast” that he’s “a one-team guy”. Brady and Gronkowski persevered and teased a potential Edelman comeback again this offseason, but Edelman played into the comeback idea, too.
Edelman then went back to his “one-team guy” statement with the “Green Light with Chris Light” podcast during the draft on April 28. reiterated that he’s a “one team guy.” Gronkowski didn’t let that stop him from humorously putting the pressure on Edelman at least one more time.
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Bucs Keeping the Door Open Despite Draft, Signing
Drafting two tight ends and signing another as an undrafted free agent far from closes the door on Gronkowski returning to the Bucs.
“I’m still giving him that time,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht told the media on April 30. “We still talk. I think it didn’t matter if we drafted two tight ends. It wouldn’t matter. I think Rob welcomes that — the more the merrier for him. So that doesn’t show our hand on or foretell what’s going to happen in the future.”
Tampa Bay took Washington tight end Cade Otton in the fourth round. Otton, who had 1,026 yards and nine touchdowns in his Huskies career, helps the Bucs get younger in the tight end room. His playing time will largely hinge on whether or not Gronkowski returns.
The Bucs also took Minnesota’s Kio Kieft in the sixth round. Kieft mainly played a blocking role with the Golden Gophers.
Wisconsin-River Falls tight end Ben Beise, who signed with the Bucs, brings size to the table at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. He will at least create competition in mini camp.
How Open is Gronkowski?
Once the Bucs’ 2021 season ended, Gronkowski told the media he needed time to figure out his future.
Gronkowski then began inserting humor into his interviews when the 2022 season came up, starting with a TMZ Sports interview in January. He had more fun at a Tampa area barbershop just days after Brady announced unretiring.
Joking continued for Gronkowski in many other interviews, including the ones during the draft as his beach party in Las Vegas. Amid Gronkowski’s humor, he’s said multiple times that how his body feels is a consideration.
Gronkowski retired once in 2019 after an injury-riddled tenure with New England. Injuries struck again for Gronkowski in 2021 with rib, lung, and back injuries. While he said he will chose the Bucs if he returns, he said, as of April, there’s no contract negotiations yet.
Time will tell what Gronkowski truly has planned for 2022.