Since Tom Brady left the Patriots after the 2019 season, there has always been speculation about whether or not he would ever return to New England to retire with the team.
That conversation has dominated the news over the last two weeks since the quarterback announced his second, yet officially official, retirement from the NFL. Robert Kraft has repeatedly expressed his desire for Brady to sign a one-day contract and return home to Foxboro over the years, reiterating that last week during an interview on Fox Business.
But what about Rob Gronkowski?
He may not have left a legacy in New England quite as Brady did, but he was still a big part of the latter half of the Patriots dynasty.
The idea of Gronk returning to retire with the Patriots has not been on the table since his first retirement in 2019, nor has it picked up any steam since Brady’s announcement last week. However, although it doesn’t appear to be a true option at this point, the tight end recently revealed during an interview with The Athletic’s Jeff Howe that he would be open to the event if offered the opportunity.
"“If it was offered and presented, it would definitely be a possibility. I love New England. I loved my time there. I learned so much. I love Mr. Kraft. I love the whole organization, coach (Bill) Belichick, everyone. I’ve learned so much there over the nine years. If that was presented in my case, that would definitely be something to consider because of just how much that place means to me for the rest of my life.”"
Hearing this from Gronkowski is noteworthy for multiple reasons, primarily because he hasn’t always spoken highly of his former coach or team. Just last month, he revealed feeling a “super depression” after a loss with the Patriots. And in April of 2022, Gronk took a jab at the team during an appearance on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, suggesting Belichick would pull players from a game before they earned their bonuses.
Ignoring what’s been said and done, could Kraft decide to make the offer?
Considering Gronkowski’s impact on the Patriots from the 2010 – 2018 seasons, it would be completely warranted for him to return to where it all began.
During those nine seasons, Gronk totaled 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in 115 games. He also added 98 receptions for 1,389 yards and 15 touchdowns in the postseason through 22 games and winning four Super Bowls.
On top of those achievements, he was also a five-time Pro Bowler, made First-Team All-Pro four times, and made the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team. Likely going down as the greatest tight end of all time, enshrining Gronkowski in the Patriots Hall of Fame or even with a one-day contract would be a really cool gesture and a fantastic event for him and the fans.