Ever since Rob Gronkowski retired after winning Super Bowl 53 with the New England Patriots, there has been steady vigilance of Patriots fans and media folks keeping a close eye on Gronk, as they patiently await his return to football.
Gronkowski has used his retirement to explore different business avenues like his investment into a CBD company. He has thrown massive beach parties, did some analytical work on Fox, and he became the WWE 24/7 Champion at Wrestlemania just a couple weeks ago.
Back in August of 2019, Gronk held a press conference to discuss CBD, and Kevin Patra on NFL.com covered the story where Gronkowski made it clear that he didn’t see himself returning to football in the foreseeable future. At the time Gronkowski said that he was physically able to play football, but he wasn’t in a position to play mentally. Gronk said that he needed to recover. The season came, people followed everything he did closely, and he never returned to football in 2019.
That press conference was eight months ago, and now it appears that Gronkowski is hinting at a possible return. Skyler Carlin of ClutchPoints covered the story today, and relayed that Gronkowski said he’s not “totally done”, when he was asked about a potential return.
I guess the real question is, if he did want to return to football, who would Gronk play for?
The Patriots were never able to find a proper replacement for Gronkowski. Henry McKenna of Patriots Wire reported that New England aggressively pursued free agent tight end Jared Cook last off season. Cook didn’t feel comfortable signing with the Patriots because Gronkowski had yet to make an announcement on whether or not he was going to retire. Cook did not want to play second fiddle to Gronk if he did return, and he ultimately signed with the New Orleans Saints.
Similar to how the Patriots made an aggressive pitch to receiver Adam Humphries in free agency and didn’t close the deal, a source close to tight end Jared Cook said the Patriots aggressively courted him before Cook elected to sign with the Saints late last week. Rob Gronkowski’s uncertain status seems to have played a significant part in Cook’s thinking, as there is clearer path to a top role on the tight-end depth chart in New Orleans.
The Patriots brought a lot of guys to camp, and they ended up finishing the season with an old Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, and Ryan Izzo. All three failed to produce much on offense, and Tom Brady saw a huge decline in his numbers because of the lack of weapons he had to work with on offense.
The thought of Gronkowski returning to football may get some Patriots fan excited, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up too quickly. As Carlin pointed out in his article, we don’t even know if Gronkowski wants to return to the Patriots.
Rumors started leaking out a couple weeks ago that said Gronkowski wanted to return to football and join Brady in Tampa Bay. The story kind of died down after a day, but with Gronkowski saying that he’s not “totally done”, it should be expected that rumors will be back in full force starting today.
Gerald Bourguet from FanSided, wrote about Gronkowski’s exchange on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, and as Bourguet points out, Gronk had to the opportunity to shut the door on any rumors - whether that’s him returning to football, or his desire to join Brady and play for the Buccaneers. Gronk instead used terms like “You never know”, “I keep myself in shape”, and “I’m not totally done”.
“The day that I retired, within 24 hours there was already rumors that I was coming out of retirement,” he told Cohen. “I’m feeling good right now, I’m happy where I’m at and you just never know, man. You just never know. You never know. I’m not totally done, I like to stay in shape, but I’ve gotta get that feeling back.”
Again, right now we’re in speculation mode. We have no idea what Gronk is going to do, or if this is him just frustrated with the line of questioning again, so he decided to have some fun with it. But, if Gronkowski did want to return to football, the Patriots would own his rights, and would need to trade him.
Carlin points out beautifully that Gronk’s question opens up a pandora box regardless of how he feels about his current situation, and you just have that feeling that this story is going to grow legs very quickly.