“Retired” New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski looks all set to join his old buddy Tom Brady down in Florida on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Well, that sure happened fast. And keep in mind — it all started with a dog.
After a canine “insider” reported rumors about retired tight end Rob Gronkowski un-retiring to join his former quarterback Tom Brady down in Tampa Bay, news broke on Tuesday that the New England Patriots had agreed to deal Gronkowski’s rights (as well a seventh round draft pick) to the Buccaneers for a fourth round pick, per ESPN.
The move reunites the two former teammates, who spent nine highly productive seasons together under Bill Belichick. Brady and Gronkowski won three Super Bowls together in all, though Gronk only played in two of them.
Per Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, Gronkowski has already passed his physical as well, which makes the new trade official.
Glazer later reported that he got a voice message from that simply said, “I’m baaaaaackkkkkk!” He was also “stoked,” according to Glazer.
Gronkowski’s accomplishments and accolades are numerous of course.
On top of the three Super Bowl rings, he’s also a five-time Pro Bowler and a four-time First-team All-Pro. He made the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, and he ranks first in average receiving yards per game (68.3), average yards per target (9.9), and average touchdowns per game (0.69) among tight ends.
He’s widely regarded as the greatest tight end of all time, just as Brady is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time.
Speculation had run rampant ever since Brady left the Patriots to join the Bucs that Gronk might consider a return. He’d always expressed that his loyalty was to Brady, and when the Patriots reportedly tried to trade him to the Lions a few years back, Gronkowski threatened to retire altogether, professing he’d only catch passes from Brady during his NFL career.
He’ll now likely get his wish.
It’s also a win — albeit in a roundabout way — for the Patriots.
The team wasn’t likely to persuade Gronk to change his mind about coming back to play in New England with Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer anyway. So rather than the Patriots just having Gronk’s $12 million cap hit on the books if they tried to bring him back (they currently have about $1 million in space), they get rid of his contract and get a higher-value draft pick in return.
Make no mistake, Gronkowski still is just 30 years old. He has a frighteningly lengthy and gruesome injury history, sure, and he has little tread left on the tires, but he’s still young. There’s a chance he does great things in Tampa Bay with Brady and makes the Patriots and their fans envious they ever let the pair go, so to speak.
We shall just have to wait and see.