— NFL Fantasy Football (@NFLFantasy) June 22, 2022
It wasn’t all that surprising, as he had been unsure for months if he wanted to return and go after one more Super Bowl championship with his good friend Tom Brady.
Gronkowski will go down as one of the greatest tight ends in football history, especially thanks to his four championship rings.
But it is another piece of bad news for the Bucs, who are coming off a tough playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams and were hoping that Brady’s return would solidify their chances of winning a second world title in three seasons.
Gronkowski Has Been One Of Brady’s Most Reliable Targets Over The Years
A second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Gronkowski quickly proved to Brady and a retooling New England Patriots team that he could be an integral piece of a championship puzzle.
As a rookie, he recorded 10 touchdowns and 546 yards, and the following season, he led everyone with 17 touchdowns while also putting up 1,327 yards.
That year, the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl, but as they did four years prior, they lost to Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
With the team reeling a bit from the Aaron Hernandez saga (he was a rising star until he was arrested and found guilty of murder), Gronkowski developed into arguably its biggest weapon on offense, especially after wideout Wes Welker departed following the 2012 season.
During the 2014-15 season, the Patriots finally won their first Super Bowl in 10 years, defeating the Seattle Seahawks in a close contest, posting 68 yards and one touchdown.
They would win two more world championships in the next four seasons, as Gronkowski earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro First-team honors in 2014, 2015, and 2017.
He followed Brady to the Bucs for the 2020 season and earned himself another ring when they humiliated Patrick Mahomes and the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
Prior to that season, he had announced his retirement, but Brady was able to convince him to give it another try in Florida.
His rare combination of brute strength, speed and dexterity, along with his huge hands, have made him a legend and a sure-fire future Hall of Famer.
The Bucs Look Somewhat Weakened
Even after Brady called off his own retirement a few months ago, the offseason didn’t go well for Tampa Bay.
The Bucs already looked a little diminished on defense, but Gronkowski will leave something of a void on offense.
Granted, he may not quite be the force he was several years ago, but the chemistry between him and Brady is unquestioned, and it may not be simple for other men to pick up the slack.
But come playoff time, Brady may have a tough time without No. 87 to look for.
On the other hand, Gronkowski’s agent seems to be leaving the door slightly ajar for a potential comeback.
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) June 21, 2022
It’s hard for great athletes like Gronkowski to retire, let alone stay retired, so don’t be surprised if he decides to return in the coming months, especially if the Bucs look like they’re poised for another Super Bowl run.