Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Rob Gronkowski retires for second time following decorated 11-year career with Patriots, Buccaneers

Rob Gronkowski, arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history, has retired for a second time. Gronkowski, who throughout this offseason had been noncommittal about his future, has decided to walk away from football after 11 seasons and four Super Bowl titles. 

“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 wrote on Instagram. “The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had well.” 

An all-decade performer for the 2010s, Gronkowski spent nine seasons with the Patriots and two with the Buccaneers after unretiring before the 2020 season. A four-time Super Bowl champion, Gronkowski caught 62 passes for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns during his career. 

Gronkowski spent the 2019 season in retirement before joining Tom Brady in Tampa. After a slow start, Gronkowski caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns during his first season with the Buccaneers. He then caught two touchdown passes in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl win over Kansas City. 

Gronkowski’s numbers were even better in 2021. Despite playing in just 12 games, Gronkowski caught 55 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns. It was his best statistical season since 2017, when he earned All-Pro honors for the fourth time. 

The Buccaneers selected two tight ends during the 2022 NFL Draft in the event that Gronkowski would not return for the upcoming season. But Tampa had remained open to the possibility of Gronkowski returning to the fold.  

“I’m still giving him that time,” Buccaneers GM Jason Licht said during the draft, via the Tampa Bay Times. “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 or foretell what’s going to happen in the future.”

The Buccaneers have their answer now. The Gronkowski era in Tampa is over, and it’s time for the Buccaneers’ new, young tight ends to begin the process of trying to fill his Lombardi Trophy-sized shoes. 

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