Now that Tom Brady has left the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an NFL free agency, the dreams and speculations of Rob Gronkowski who could return to professional football have moved south to Florida.
Many Patriots fans hoped that the former quarter-final would come out of retirement and join the team for the 2019 season, but that never happened. The Patriots never found suitable replacements for the future Hall of Fame and, therefore, the close end was a weak position for them last season. Benjamin Watson, Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse have been unable to provide consistent attacking production in the assist game.
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Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht was asked about Gronkowski at a press conference on Thursday. Here’s what he said, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN:
Bucs GM Jason Licht on if Rob Gronkowski would ever be an option: “Well, he’s doing a really good job in Wrestlemania right now. I have no idea if he would like to play. He said the Patriots still have rights over him.
– JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) April 9, 2020
Licht is right when he notes that the Patriots retain Gronkowski’s rights. In order for him to return to football and leave the Patriots, the team had to exchange or release him. Gronkowski can’t just walk away and sign with the Bucs.
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It should also be noted that, unlike the Patriots, the Bucs don’t really need another tight end. Sure, Gronkowski could probably be an effective player at 30, but O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are currently giving Tampa Bay a solid 1-2 tight punch.
Howard, in particular, should greatly benefit from Brady’s arrival in Tampa Bay. He was a first round pick in 2017 and, like Gronkowski, he has good speed for a tight end with an impressive size (6 feet 6 inches and 251 pounds). Howard has shown flashes of high-level talent, but has yet to display it consistently. Brady’s success story of tight ends augurs well for Howard to have a breakout campaign in 2020.
Gronkowski and Brady had a legendary connection to the Patriots, but between the Bucs’ current tight situation and Gronk’s busy career away from football – he recently won a WWE champion belt – it’s hard to imagine that other touchdown passes are launched # 12 to # 87.