Gronkowski made the announcement official with a message on Twitter. He spent the past two seasons with the Buccaneers and was a member of the squad that won Super Bowl LV.
Gronkowski initially retired from the league following the 2018 season. To that point, he had spent all nine years in the NFL with the New England Patriots, where he was a three-time Super Bowl winner. The future Hall of Fame tight end came out of retirement before the 2020 season, rejoining former teammate Tom Brady in Tampa.
Gronkowski was second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Arizona. He played with the Patriots from 2010-18 and finished his NFL career with the Bucs from 2020-21. In addition to his four Super Bowl titles, Gronkowski was also a five-time Pro Bowl selection.
Earlier this month, Gronkowski remained unsigned for the 2022 season. At the time, the Buccaneers were “optimistic” that the Pro Bowl tight end would re-sign with the team for the upcoming season, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Obviously, the 33-year-old tight end had a different plan in mind.
Gronkowski ends his career with 621 catches for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns.
Would Rob Gronkowski Return … Again?
Rob Gronkowski has done this before. Following the 2018 season, the star tight end stepped away from the game after nine seasons with the New England Patriots. At the time, he cited pain and injuries for his decision.
“I want to be clear to my fans: I needed to recover, ” Gronkowski said in August 2019, per Kristina Rex of WBZ. “I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down.”
After taking a year off to recover, Gronkowski decided to return to the field. He followed Tom Brady from New England to Tampa Bay and became an instrumental piece in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl run to close the 2020-21 season.
There’s a chance Gronkowski could make the same move in the future. Albert Breer of NBC Sports said he spoke with the tight end’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Apparently, there’s a possibility the future Hall of Famer returns to the league in the future.
“This is just my opinion but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season,” Rosenhaus told Breer.
It didn’t take long for Gronkowski’s high-level ability to return. Over the past two seasons in Tampa, he’s hauled in 100 receptions for 1,425 yards and 13 touchdowns. Gronkowski pulled down 17 catches for 226 yards and three scores in the postseason for the Buccaneers.
Even stepping away from the field for a full year, Gronkowski proved to be one of the top tight ends in league in his return. His abilities will undoubtedly tempt Super Bowl-minded franchises to reach out to the recently-retired star.
Would Gronkowski answer the phone?
A Hall of Fame NFL Career
It doesn’t matter if Rob Gronkowski has played his last down in the NFL or if he makes a return to the field in the future; he’s heading to Canton either way. Somewhere down the road, his bust will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Gronkowski has set multiple NFL tight end records over the course of his 11-year career. He set the single-season record for touchdown catches by a tight end (17) in 2011. “Gronk” also broke the record for most 100-yard receiving games for a tight end, registering 32 during his career.
Along with his impressive stat line, Gronkowski was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and earned First-Team All-Pro honors on four occasions. He was also named to the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team to go along with his four Super Bowl rings.