Now that superstar Rob Gronkowski has officially decided to retire, where do the New England Patriots go next at the tight end position?
Unless sports agent Drew Rosenhaus truly knows something that the rest of us don’t, it appears that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has finally decided to call it a career. After publicly flirting with retirement for years, Gronkowski surprised the sports world last Sunday by sharing his intention to retire from the NFL in a thoughtful Instagram post.
There are two things we can all do now in the wake of Gronkowski’s announcement: assess his legacy and impact on both the Patriots as a franchise and on the league as a whole; and strategize as to how New England can best attempt to replace a potential first-ballot Hall of Fame player.
It certainly won’t be easy. Tight ends of Gronkowski’s caliber don’t grow on trees, as much as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady probably wish they did. Even a diminished Gronkowski, slowed by recurring injuries, aches, and pains, was a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs last year.
So where then do the Patriots turn? They have several options to explore in the coming months before the 2019 season begins.
New England freed up about $10 million in salary cap space that they can apply towards trying to sign a free agent tight end still on the market. They could also try and find another NFL team willing to trade a tight end, perhaps for capital in this draft or in a future one. Finally, they could look to find Gronkowski’s replacement in the 2019 NFL Draft themselves, and hope that the young athlete develops quickly and becomes at least half the player Gronk was.