Following a brief step into retirement, Rob Gronkowski made his return to the NFL last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gronkowski played a pivotal part in helping push the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win. As the offseason moves into free agency, Gronkowski has opened the door to a potentially crushing scenario for Tampa Bay.
Rob Gronkowski ends retirement to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay
After spending only a year in retirement, Rob Gronkowski made his much-anticipated return to the NFL in 2020.
The New England Patriots made it come to fruition by trading him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to join longtime teammate Tom Brady. Gronkowski moved through last season without any lingering health issues, allowing him to put together a productive campaign.
The 31-year-old hauled in 45 catches on 77 targets for 623 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Gronkowski posted six games with more than 50 receiving yards, including a season-high 106 receiving yards against the Kansas City Chiefs.
He saved his best for last in Super Bowl 55 as he recorded six catches on seven targets for 67 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns that helped guide the team to a championship. His performance moved him into second all-time in three categories trailing only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice with 23 catches for 297 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Super Bowls.
Since the end of the season, the assumption is that Gronkowski will be back in Tampa Bay for another campaign. However, that scenario may not be as bulletproof as once believed.
Rob Gronkowski flirts with a scenario that would devastate the Buccaneers
Before Super Bowl 55, Rob Gronkowski declared that he would return for at least another season, with hopes of re-signing with the Buccaneers.
Since then, there has been a growing notion that he will stay with the franchise. However, Gronkowski recently voiced during an interview on the 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt podcast that he will explore the free agency process despite his desire to return to the Buccaneers.
“I definitely want to be back with the Buccaneers. That’s where my eyesight is. That’s where I’m leaning toward, big time,” Gronkowski said. “But with the free agency process, you just never know what may happen. There’s some other teams interested out there, too.
“I’ve also never been a part of the free agency process, so I actually want to dip my toes in, just to see what’s out there.”
There’s no question that Gronkowski wants to play another season with Tom Brady but wants to at least venture into free agency. It’s the first time in his career that he will get to experience the open market. In the same interview with Kyle Brandt, he also voiced that other teams are interested in his services.
Gronkowski is also well aware of how much the media will run with anything he says. That was certainly the case during his retirement as he repeatedly left the door open to an NFL return. In all likelihood, it could be his way of subtly relaying the message to the Buccaneers that he wants to feel valued.
Buccaneers will make a strong push to retain him
Over the last several days, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have moved quickly to retain their prominent free agents.
Tampa Bay has already agreed to new deals with Lavonte David, Shaq Barrett, and franchise-tagged Chris Godwin. The team still has notable names without new deals in Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, and Ndamukong Suh.
Gronkowski is certainly high on the list of those remaining big names for the Buccaneers. There is a strong mutual desire, and it may just be a matter of finding a comfortable financial amount on a one-year deal.