Some league members believe the Buccaneers have taken a hooded approach to landing quarterback Tom Brady, ignoring the rarely applied tampering rules to ensure they have their man. And it worked; no one has seriously doubted that the Bucs had had premature communication with Brady (even if circumstances suggest), in the same way that the league turned a blind eye to Brady’s meeting with the Buccaneers’ coaches in violation of training rules out of season.
And now the Bucs may have broken a rule or two in pursuit of tight end Rob Gronkowski. Appearing Saturday on the Bud Light Seltzter “Drafterparty”, Gronk said that Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been studying the team’s playbook for weeks: “I was in a Tampa Bay playbook Buccaneers four weeks ago, and I was not even on the team. “
Although Gronk has the playbook may not be a rule violation per se, how he got it could be. Until he was traded last week from New England to Tampa Bay, Gronkowski was still under contract with the Patriots. If the Buccaneers contacted Gronk directly about the possibility of joining the team, and providing the game manual was just part of the process, this could be a potential problem for Tampa Bay.
The Patriots did not respond to a request for comment as to whether they allowed communications between the Buccaneers and Gronkowski before the trade in something for nothing that enabled New England to obtain compensation for a guy who was never going to play for them again. And the Patriots generally didn’t seem inclined to stink about the potential forgery that might have taken place with Brady in February or March, by the Buccaneers or anyone.
Be that as it may, Gronk’s decision to let go of the fact that he had a Bucs game book weeks before the Patriots traded it in Tampa could force the league to engage in the same kind of walk the tightrope that excused Brady’s meeting with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, ostensibly for picking up a playbook.
Perhaps the explanation this time will be that Brady was picking up a copy of the playbook he had planned, without the Buccaneers’ knowledge, to give to Gronk.