Sometimes it just seems as though things are so weird that the world just goes ‘what the hell’ and willfully adds to the craziness. Enter Gronk. The retired tight end not only unretired yesterday, but was traded from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a fourth-round pick, while the Buccaneers also get a seventh-round pick back.
Gronkowski, who will now restart his clock for Hall of Fame eligibility and should be a first-ballot guy when his time does arrive, is widely regarded as one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. He has put up some of the greatest seasons a tight end has ever had, including his second year in 2011, during which he caught 90 passes for 1327 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Over 115 games in nine years, he has caught 521 passes for 7861 yards and 79 touchdowns, averaging 58 catches for 973 yards and nine touchdowns per season. However, he only averaged 12.8 games per season. Prorated over full 16-game seasons, his averages are 72 receptions for 1094 yards and 11 touchdowns.
According to reports, Gronkowski was ‘done with New England’ after the 2018 season; however, that didn’t mean that he was done playing with Tom Brady. After Brady chose to leave New England and sign with the Buccaneers, Gronkowski’s representatives had been engaged with the two parties about potentially being traded.
One wonders if Brady’s decision to leave the Patriots—he recently said that he knew before last season it would be his last year—was in any way inspired by his desire to play with Gronkowski again, who will turn 31 in May.
When he retired, Gronkowski blamed injuries an their cumulative physical and mental toll, but he has now had a year away from the game to allow himself to heal. He has already taken and passed a physical and is ready to resume his NFL career.
It remains to be seen what that entails, and if it will extend beyond 2020, the only duration for which he is under contract. Another tight end, Jason Witten, retired for a year only to be coaxed back out of retirement last year to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys. Rather than retiring again, he signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency.
If he really is properly healthy, and can look something like the Gronkowski of old, then the Buccaneers can have a dangerous offense with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at wide receiver, plus O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate also at tight end. You would think Tampa Bay would want to reinforce the offense for Brady as well, so you can expect the skill positions to be addressed in the draft.