Bruce Arians calls out Rob Gronkowski over his conditioning

By Matt Johnson
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made big splashes this offseason by signing Tom Brady and trading for Rob Gronkowski. As Brady gets used to a new playbook and being cussed out by head coach Bruce Arians, Gronk seems to be having his own difficulties with the heat.

Speaking to reporters on Monday after the team’s first padded practice, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians didn’t hold back on his reflections of how the All-Pro tight end looked.

Bruce Arians calls out Rob Gronkowski’s conditioning

Not only is Arians recognized as one of the smartest coaches in football, he is also one of bluntest. From talking about the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic to his own tendency to publicly blast his quarterbacks, the 67-year-old doesn’t hold back.

The Buccaneers went through nearly three weeks of conditioning to begin training camp before taking the field with their pads on Monday. Just one day in, it’s clear Arians wasn’t especially impressed by Gronk’s conditioning.

“He’s probably in New England shape right now. He’s not in Florida shape,” Bruce Arians said, via The Athletic. “The heat’s kicking his a** pretty good. It’s different, man … I don’t think he’s ever sweat that much in his life.”

Calling his star tight end out publicly, while slightly trolling the New England Patriots, is likely a motivational push by Arians. Gronkowski, entering his age-31 season, admitted in May that he wasn’t in playing shape and there was plenty of work left to be done.

It’s hard to blame the former five-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl champion for struggling in Florida’s heat. He took a year off from football and likely got used to light activity during the summer in relaxing temperatures.

We don’t expect conditioning will be a problem that stretches into the season, especially with Brady more than happy to remind his friend where the bar must be to win another ring.

Rob Gronkowski fantasy outlook

Gronkowski’s return to the NFL has a lot of football fans excited, especially fantasy football players. According to FantasyPros, his current average draft position is 80th overall and the No. 7 selection among tight ends. Understandably, many are excited about his fantasy outlook in one of the NFL’s best offenses.

However, there might be some reason to dial the excitement back. It’s not easy to make an immediate transition back to the NFL after spending a year partying and enjoying retirement. That is highlighted by Arians calling out Gronk’s conditioning.

It’s not the only concern regarding Gronkowski’s fantasy outlook. NBC Sports’ Peter King predicted Monday that Gronk might rank third in snaps among Tampa Bay’s tight ends this season, seeing less time on the field than O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.

Obviously, the chemistry between Brady and Gronk is unmatched. The tight end is also a position in fantasy where a player doesn’t need to produce huge numbers to start in most fantasy lineups. The appeal with Gronkowski is obvious, but fantasy owners should acknowledge there is some risk that comes with it.