The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are preparing for their Week 1 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football. However, tight end Rob Gronkowski has already been fielding questions about his return to New England in Week 5, when the defending Super Bowl champions take on the Patriots. Gronk’s response was hilarious.
Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady played together for 9 seasons in New England
The Patriots drafted Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Arizona. After an impressive 10-touchdown season as a rookie, he exploded during his sophomore campaign. Gronk started all 16 games for New England, catching 90 passes for 1,327 yards and a league-leading 17 touchdowns.
In nine seasons in New England, he recorded 521 receptions amassing 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. Gronk, Brady, and Bill Belichick helped lead the Patriots to three Super Bowls during their time together.
At 6-foot-6, 268 pounds, Gronkowski established himself as a true matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Catching passes from arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time worked in his favor as well. Brady recruited his old friend to come out of retirement and rejoin him in Tampa Bay.
The two players already established their chemistry, but Gronkowski had to work himself back into playing shape. He finished the season with 45 catches for 623 yards and seven touchdowns. Brady connected with the tight end for two scores in the playoffs as well.
Rob Gronkowski is going to rent out his New England home and raise the price
Gronk spoke with reporters ahead of the Buccaneers’ Week 1 tilt with the Cowboys. He said the team’s focus for the 2021 season is one game at a time. The Bucs are looking to defend their title and know a huge target will be on their backs. On any given Sunday, any team can lose in the NFL.
ESPN’s Jenna Laine asked the 32-year-old if he’s been looking ahead to the Week 5 matchup with the Patriots at all. She said the hotel prices in the Foxborough, Massachusetts area have been jacked up for that week.
Gronkowski joked that he’d rent his New England home out for anyone who wants to be in town for the big game. “I got my house there still, so come rent it out for a weekend for four times the price, baby,” said the veteran. “Airbnb that weekend!”
Gillette Stadium is going to be rocking for that game. It will mark the return of Gronkowski and Tom Brady to the stadium where it all began. Both players gave so much to the Patriots organization and are still beloved in New England. Buccaneers vs. Patriots will surely be one of the most highly-anticipated games of the 2021 NFL season.
How do the Buccaneers and Patriots stack up in 2021?
The Buccaneers and Patriots both have high expectations for the season. Tampa Bay goes from being the hunter to the hunted. After a decisive victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, the Bruce Arians‘ squad enters the 2021 season with utmost confidence. They return most of their starters from 2020, so regression is unlikely.
The Bucs are loaded with offensive weapons for Brady to throw the ball to. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown could all realistically put up monster numbers in 2021. Running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, and Giovani Bernard each bring something unique to the table. The trio should be effective behind one of the NFL’s strongest offensive lines.
Tampa Bay’s defense is just as formidable. Led by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Bucs have a perfect balance of veterans and young talent. Between the regular season and postseason, the defense tied for the league lead with 58 sacks. It also led the NFL in quarterback hits, tackles for loss, and takeaways. They could be a top-5 defense once again.
The Patriots should be a factor in the AFC East after finishing with a 7-9 record n 2020. The front office was busy in the offseason. New England added Matthew Judon, Kyle Van Noy, and Davon Godchaux to help bolster the defense. They also drafted defensive tackle Christian Barmore and edge rusher Ronnie Perkins.
The offense will look very different in 2021. The Patriots recently released quarterback Cam Newton, turning the reigns over to rookie Mac Jones. The Alabama standout is a more natural fit in Josh McDaniels’ offense and could thrive early on. With receiving threats like Jonnu Smith and Jakobi Meyers, and a solid offensive line, this could be a team to watch in the AFC.
Whether or not they want to admit it, both the Buccaneers and Patriots have this game marked on their calendars.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference