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Rob Gronkowski appears ready to come back for 12th NFL season

Andrew Buller-Russ

We’ve already learned the fate of Tom Brady for the 2022 NFL season (we think), but what about the teammate who’s caught more touchdowns from TB12 than any other NFL player? We’re talking about Rob Gronkowski of course.

Set for unrestricted free agency, after two seasons catching passes from Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gronk will have several options.

Perhaps the easiest would be to retire, as he once did, sitting out the entire 2019 season at age 30. With Gronk turning 33 this offseason, it’s possible he busts out the cabana wear once again and puts himself on a permanent vacation.

But, with Gronk still playing at a high level, a second retirement seems unlikely at this stage. He recently spoke of a desire to possibly play with Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. Yet even they have a solid TE1 with C.J. Uzomah. The issue there is Uzomah is also set to become an unrestricted free agent.

For the Bengals, they have plenty of salary cap space at nearly $49 million, meaning re-signing Uzomah shouldn’t be an issue.

For Gronk, it depends on what he’s after at this stage in his career. He’s likely to continue being a ring-chaser, with a desire to play with an established quarterback who’s poised for another deep playoff run.

This could point him to the Bengals, but there’s no guarantee the feeling is mutual. It likely won’t matter, as there will be several organizations with a strong interest in adding a four-time All-Pro at the tight end position.

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Rob Gronkowski still working out at Bucs facility twice per week

NFL: NFC Wild Card Playoffs-Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As the NFL world tries to decipher what Rob Gronkowski’s next plans are, his former head coach Bruce Arians may have provided a glimpse into the star TE’s thoughts.

Arians noted that both Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh have told the team they’d like to play another season, but he says he didn’t know about Gronk. He did, however, add that Gronk is still working out at the Buccaneers’ training facility twice per week.

Maybe Gronkowski is simply using this benefit to continue having a familiar place to train as he looks to stay in shape, or maybe it means he has no plans of retiring. He could even still want to play in Tampa, being that he’s remained in the area.

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On the flip side, the Bucs may already know Gronk doesn’t want to come back to the team. It seems a bit odd that Arians would be willing to share the status of JPP and Suh, but somehow not know what Gronk’s plans are. The organization has certainly had a conversation or two with their Pro Bowl tight end since the season ended, they just may not have liked what they heard.

Ultimately, the Bucs need to do their best to acquire an established NFL starting quarterback if they want to remain a desirable landing spot for free agents around the league.

Related: 50 predictions ahead of NFL free agency, where will Rob Gronkowski land?