Amid the Bucs’ constellation of free agents, none have their respective star attached to Tom Brady quite like Rob Gronkowski.
Eleven seasons into the transformative tight end’s career, Brady remains the only starting quarterback with whom he has played. Hence the reason for the presumption that the GOAT’s decision on his future could have a bearing on Gronk’s.
Or could it? Could a scenario arise where Gronkowski, among 11 unrestricted free agents who started Sunday’s playoff loss to the Rams, keeps playing even if the 44-year-old Brady retires?
“There could be a scenario like that,” Gronkowski told reporters late Monday morning.
“I mean, I’d never throw anything off the board, because you never know how anything’s ever going to play out. It’s the NFL, it’s one of the craziest businesses out there. You see organizations just totally flip year-in and year-out sometimes, so I’m just going to really basically do obviously what’s best for myself in the terms of the football world.”
Whatever his decision, Gronkowski, who turns 33 in May, said he’ll take a few weeks to regroup mentally and physically.
“From (Sunday) night to (Monday), seeing all the guys, it’s kind of an emotional battle,” said Gronkowski, who had four catches (on 11 targets) for 85 yards in Sunday’s 30-27 loss.
“We’re down, for sure, and I believe you really can’t make a decision in that mindset. The process I would say is, take some time off, recover, let the body heal, see where your thoughts are, see where your feelings are, give it a couple of weeks and then go from there.”
Despite missing more than a month with fractured ribs and a punctured lung (sustained in the regular-season loss to the Rams), Gronkowski said he emerged from the 19-game season with typical soreness but “nothing serious.” He finished with 55 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns in 12 regular-season games after signing another one-year deal in March.
On Sunday, he said his two seasons with the Bucs — which include 24 regular-season wins, two postseason berths and a Super Bowl — “solidified” his decision to return to the NFL after a one-year retirement following the 2018 season.
Whether the next retirement looms remains unclear.
“I need time to myself. Whatever Tom does, Tom’s going to do, too,” Gronkowski said.
“I’m sure that he needs time to himself, too, to see where he’s at at this stage. But we’ll see in a couple of weeks where I’m at.”
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