Rob Gronkowski Reaffirms Retirement Amid Speculation of a Buccaneers Return

by Nick Geddes

It’s been 21 days since tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the NFL after 11 seasons.

And for the last 21 days, it’s been hard to find anyone who actually thinks Gronkowski will stay in the retirement home. While a return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – sometime during the 2022 season – still feels like the likely outcome, Gronkowski insists this is the end and that a return is not in the cards. Speaking in Boston Tuesday, Gronkowski reaffirmed his retirement.

“I’m done with football,” Gronkowski said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Love the game. Definitely blessed with all the opportunities the game of football has given me, and relationships – obviously here in New England Patriots for nine seasons and down in Tampa for two. But done with football and stepping my feet into the business world, business ventures, and just seeing what’s out there and where I can find my place.”

The 33-year-old was back in Boston for an event sponsored by his brother Chris’ company, IceShaker. Gronkowski said he expects to be involved with the company now that his playing days are over.

Could Rob Gronkowski Still Return to the Buccaneers?

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the Buccaneers were optimistic Gronkowski would return before training camp begins on July 27. Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, went as far to say after Gronkowski announced his retirement that he wouldn’t be shocked if he came back this season or next.

All it would take – as you could imagine – is one call from Tom Brady. The Buccaneers quarterback made the call in 2020 to lure Gronkowski back out of retirement. Brady had just signed with Tampa Bay and wanted to bring his former New England teammate with him. Gronkowski had hung up his cleats after the 2018 season and did not play in 2019. It worked then and Tampa Bay would certainly love for a repeat this time around.

Gronkowski, however, said that even if Brady calls, you won’t see him back on the field. Not now, or ever.

“Drew [Rosenhaus] is No. 1 football agent out there and he loves anything that has to do with the NFL and loves to see his players always playing,” Gronkowski said. “I would answer, obviously, the greatest quarterback of all time. Ask him how he’s doing. Tell him I’m doing good. But I wouldn’t go back to football – no.”

The Buccaneers, who entered the offseason with salary cap issues and a plethora of key free agents, seem to be leaving room to fit Rob Gronkowski into the budget. According to, Tampa Bay has $12.448 million in cap space. That includes $5 million in dead cap money for Gronkowski as part of his deferred signing bonus, per Stroud.

Should Gronkowski stay retired, he will first be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2027. He would likely be a first-ballot selection, regarded as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history.