The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already got quarterback Tom Brady back in the fold for the 2022 NFL season. As for Rob Gronkowski, the fellow future Hall of Famer, it seems the franchise will have to keep waiting.
After Brady first announced his retirement, Gronk hinted at a desire to keep playing. He expressed interest in teaming up with Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, opening the door of speculation to the Pro Bowl tight end finding a new home.
The 32-year-old certainly proved he can still play at a high level this past season. Despite being limited to 12 games, he finished with 802 receiving yards and averaged 14.6 yards per catch, It marked his highest averages since he earned All-Pro honors in 2018 with the New England Patriots.
- Rob Gronkowski stats (2021): 55 receptions, 802 receiving yards, 6 touchdowns, 34 first downs
While the Buccaneers getting Brady to return would seemingly secure Gronk’s availability next season, that might not be the case. Speaking at Tyreek Hill’s introductory press conference, agent Drew Rosenhaus said Gronkowski is still uncertain on whether or not he plays this fall.
“I talked to Tampa yesterday and I told them that he’s still undecided, he needs some time to figure out whether he wants to play.”Drew Rosenhaus on Rob Gronkowski, via Rick Stroud
While it’s not impossible to think Gronkowski plays for another team, it would be a major surprise if he caught passes from anyone but Brady this season. Because of that, he’s likely deciding between re-signing with the Buccaneers or retiring for the second time.
Ultimately, this might all be about timing. Gronkowski could spend several months enjoying life as one of the highest-paid tight ends in NFL history. He doesn’t need minicamp to get in football shape or to develop on-field chemistry with Brady.
- Rob Gronkowski career earnings: $70.6 million
If Gronk doesn’t want to return to the field until late in the summer, avoiding as many practices as possible, Brady and the Buccaneers would accept that if it means the star tight end returns.