It would have been incredibly interesting to see the greatest quarterback of all time, Tom Brady, and his longtime teammate and one of the greatest tight ends of all time, Rob Gronkowski, go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in the same class. Apparently will not happen. The big tight end announced his retirement on Tuesday, meaning he will not be joining his longtime New England Patriots teammate in Tampa again. SportsLine offers NFL odds on whether he stays retired.
To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, a player (or coach) must be inactive from the NFL for five years, meaning Gronkowski would be eligible for the Class of 2027 if he stays retired. Of course, Brady actually did retire briefly this offseason before changing his mind – and trying to convince Gronkowski to return for one more season. Gronkowski had previously retired after the 2018 season with the Patriots due to injuries. It was Brady who summoned him out of retirement in 2020 to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
ESPN's Adam Schefter just tweeted this: "His agent Drew Rosenhaus texts: 'It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call. This is just my opinion but I wouldn't be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.' "
Indeed, a common early opinion around the NFL with this news is that Gronk will get the itch to return sometime in mid-November and this way he avoids taking a physical beating all season. Last year Gronkowski missed five games but was very productive with 55 catches for 802 yards and six scores.
While Brady is almost 45 and Gronkowski only 33, he has dealt with some serious injuries over the years. He was a five-time Pro Bowler, a four-time first-team All-Pro, the 2014 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, a member of the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, a member of the league's 2010s All-Decade team, and a four-time Super Bowl champion.
Gronkowski even led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2011 with 17, the most ever by a tight end. No player at that position has led the league since. Gronk's 32 career 100-yard games are a record for his position. His 92 total career touchdowns are 12th-most in NFL history and third-most at the position behind Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111). He was the only tight end in history to post three seasons of 1,000 yards receiving and 10-plus touchdowns (2011, '14, '15). Gronk also has the most career postseason catches (98), receiving yards (1,389) and TDs (15) at his position.
Tampa also lost former first-round draft pick and tight end O.J. Howard this offseason after he signed with the Bills in free agency. The Bucs' No. 1 tight end will now be Cameron Brate, barring a change of heart from Gronkowski or some other move. The team selected Washington's Cade Otton in the fourth round of this year's draft. Otton is still recovering from ankle surgery he underwent in November but should be ready for training camp.
Below are the SportsLine Projection Model's sims of the 2022 Bucs without Gronk.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Will Rob Gronkowski play in the NFL this season?
- Yes -130
- No +100
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