Rob Gronkowski surprised fans when he announced his retirement in March. Despite battling injuries in recent years, he’d played at a high level last season. Since his decision, many have speculated that Gronk may return for another season with the Patriots. Those rumors continue to pick up steam, partly because he was caught practicing with a former teammate.
Rob Gronkowski’s career stats
During his nine-year career, the three-time Super Bowl champion became one of the best tight ends in NFL history. In 115 regular-season games, Gronkowski had 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. Despite touching the ball more than 500 times, the 30-year-old only has four fumbles on his ledger.
Gronkowski’s career year came in his second NFL season, 2011, when he set career highs with 90 catches, 1,327 yards, and 17 touchdowns. It was also the last season he played in all 16 games, as a series of injuries limited him moving forward. Regardless, the tight end added another 81 catches and 12 touchdowns in 16 postseason games.
The retirement announcement
On March 24, 2019, Gronkowski announced his retirement on Instagram. The news created somewhat of an uproar in the NFL community because losing Gronkowski removes one of Tom Brady’s best targets in the passing game.
Gronk had been rumored to be contemplating retirement for the past few seasons. He decided it was time after the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII in February, so he could go out on a high note with a third ring. In the wake of his retirement, people speculated about Gronk’s future. Common guesses included acting and a second career in the WWE.
Is he really retired?
Speculation about a comeback grew in July when Gronkowski was spotted doing a private workout with Brady at UCLA. The former tight end was in Los Angeles for a charity basketball game. He confirmed that he’d trained with Brady as well as the QB’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, who Gronk has exercised with in the past. Gronkowski told TMZ, “It was great working out,” and when Brady needs someone to throw to “he calls Mr. Reliable Robbie G the one and only!”
Gronkowski has slimmed down to 250 pounds — about 15 pounds less than his NFL weight. He doesn’t necessarily look ready for football, and he says he’s enjoying being retired. However, the athlete may change his mind once he sees the Patriots playing. Gronk shared he “can’t really say how I’m going to feel about it when the games start rolling around and everything.”
The Patriots without Gronkowski
New England has big shoes to fill at tight end. Right now, veteran Benjamin Watson sits at the top of the depth chart with Matt LaCosse, who has 27 career catches in three seasons with the Giants and Broncos.
Unless the Patriots make an addition at the position — or Gronkowski returns — Watson and LaCosse are unlikely, even combined, to match Gronk-type numbers. Julian Edelman should be the team’s top pass-catcher, taking a lot of the targets and receptions Gronkowski would normally have.