Rob Gronkowski contacted Bucs last month about possible return

Head coach Todd Bowles said that since the tight end had retired for a second time in his career, it was more of a “conversation.”
Published Dec. 23, 2022|Updated Dec. 24, 2022

TAMPA ― Saying he was “bored” not playing football, retired tight end Rob Gronkowski contacted the Bucs last month about a possible return to the team.

The Bucs had several conversations with Gronkowski around Thanksgiving about him possibly reuniting with quarterback Tom Brady to help the struggling squad secure a playoff berth.

Gronkowski told the Bucs he had been working out. He and the club discussed several options, including signing the 33-year-old to the practice squad to give him a couple weeks to get back into football shape, although they were willing to add him to the active roster.

In the end, Gronkowski decided to remain retired for now.

“It was more of a conversation than anything else,” Bucs coach Todd Bowles said. “Usually, when you have to think about playing, you probably don’t want to play. When it’s just a discussion, I didn’t think much of it at the time.”

The Bucs are 6-8 but still hold a one-game lead in the NFC South entering Sunday night’s game at Arizona.

Gronkowski first retired after the 2018 season with the Patriots. He agreed to rejoin Brady in Tampa Bay in 2020, and the Bucs traded for his rights from New England.

Gronkowski played in all 16 regular-season games in 2020, catching 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season.

In four postseason games, Gronkowski had eight catches for 110 yards. That included six receptions on seven targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl 55 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

But last season, Gronkowski suffered fractured ribs and a partially punctured lung in a Week 3 loss to the Rams and missed four games. Even so, he was a factor down the stretch and produced even better numbers with 55 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns.

Gronkowski was trending on Twitter Wednesday after tweeting, “I’m kinda bored.”

He revealed Thursday on the “Up & Adams” show that the tweet was part of a partnership he has with FanDuel and that he received calls from two unidentified NFL teams in response.

“I barely tweet, actually,” Gronkowski said. “But I’m kind of bored, just people took that as I was coming back to football right away. It was just mind-blowing, actually, how my agent hit me up, two teams hit me up. It was just crazy. My friends actually were hitting me up, too, like, ‘Bro, are you really going back to football? I don’t see that happening.’ I was like, ’You know I’m not.’”

Asked by host Kay Adams if the teams that reached out were ones he has played for, Gronkowski said, “Possibly, and possibly not.”

Is he finished playing professional football for good, Adams asked?

“No, I’m not playing this year,” Gronkowski said. “I can’t tell you what I’m doing next year or the year after. You never know. There could be a slight chance.”

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The Bucs could certainly use Gronkowski as a blocker and pass-catcher. They rank last in the NFL in rushing and average only 3.3 yards per carry.

The Bucs drafted two tight ends, Washington’s Cade Otton (37 receptions, 357 yards, 2 TDs) and Minnesota’s Ko Kieft (seven receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD).

“They’re playing very well,” Bowles said. “I like where they’re going and how they’re coming along. They’re doing very well.”

So Gronkowski will remain retired ― for now ― though the Bucs seemingly will always keep the door open for him.

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