Gronk is retired; or is he?

Adam Dapolite

“I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010.”

March 25 was a sad day for Patriots fans when Rob Gronkowski announced via Instagram he would be retiring from the NFL after 9 seasons with the New England Patriots. Drafted 42nd overall out of the University of Arizona, some scouts called Gronkowski “the best all-around player in the draft”. It’s not hard to see why; “Gronk” was a 5 time Pro Bowler, 4 time first team All Pro, 2014 Comeback Player of the Year, and 3 time Super Bowl Champion. Gronkowski will certainly be a significant loss to the Patriots organization. But don’t start crying over Gronk just yet, because there is still a chance we can see Gronk back in action.

Players coming out of retirement to rejoin their former teammates is not unheard of in the NFL. Recently, former NFL broadcaster Jason Witten resigned with the Dallas Cowboys. After announcing his retirement at the end of the 2017 season, Witten was off the field for one season before saying he would return to football for the 2019 season. Witten says “This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship.” is his reason for returning to the NFL. It’s worth mentioning that the Dallas Cowboys have not advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs since 1995 and have only made the playoffs 7 times in the past 20 years. In a similar way to Jason Witten, Rob Gronkowski could return to the New England Patriots.

Having Gronk on the field again would be huge for the Patriots, Tom Brady goes as far as to say Gronk was, “unbeatable when you were on the field!” With no guarantees for Rob Gronkowski’s future, the Patriots may have to start looking for a new tight end to fill Gronk’s place. It’s likely the Patriots will look to draft a young tight end in this year’s draft. Chances are T.J. Hockenson of Iowa will have been picked by the 32nd pick the Patriots hold, so the team’s attention shifts to Irv Smith of Alabama. Smith was a key part of the Alabama team in 2017 when they won the NCAA Championship. Better yet, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has met Smith Alabama’s Pro Day earlier this month. So who knows, the Patriots may have already found the player they want to fill Rob Gronkowski’s shoes.

While fans would love to have Gronk back on the field, it’s time for the Patriots to move forward with plans for a future without one of their star player. Hopefully Gronk comes back soon, so we can have more amazing plays, more “Gronk spikes”, and more overall silliness back in Gillette Stadium.