Rob Gronkowski may not have not have been quite as dominant of a presence in 2018 as he was in seasons before that, but rival coaches are still relieved that they no longer have to game-plan against him.
Gronkowski was an absolute nightmare for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the years, so no one is happier to see him leave than Mike Tomlin. Shortly after Gronk made his retirement announcement on Sunday, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston had an entertaining exchange with Tomlin when he asked the coach if he wanted to come on the air to discuss the big news.
“Is he retiring?” Tomlin asked.
Curran informed him that the announcement had just been made official by the star tight end himself.
“Awesome!” Tomlin exclaimed.
The Steelers held Gronkowski in check in their only meeting with the Patriots last year, as he managed just 21 yards on two catches. That was the Gronk that had clearly lost a step, however. During New England’s win over the Steelers in 2017, he caught nine passes for 168 yards and a two-point conversion. He caught eight touchdown passes in seven career games against the Steelers and was held under 72 yards receiving just that one time, as noted by Matt Dolloff of 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Unfortunately for Tomlin, there appears to be at least a small chance Gronkowski’s retirement won’t be permanent.
Rob Gronkowski should have no shortage of options for how to spend his time now that he has retired from football, but the one fans seem to talk about the most is a career in professional wrestling. Oddsmakers believe a stint in the WWE is a real possibility for the former New England Patriots star.
On Monday, online gambling site BetOnline.ag released some odds for what Gronkowski may do first with his life after football. Wrestling in the WWE topped the list, with becoming an NFL commentator a close second.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) March 25, 2019
If you’re looking for more reason to speculate about Gronk getting into wrestling, you might point to the fact that the WWE was quick to congratulate him following Sunday’s retirement announcement.
— WWE (@WWE) March 24, 2019
Part of the reason Gronkowski is retiring before age 30 is that he has suffered so many injuries over the years, and wrestling in the WWE is still physically taxing. He may decide that he wants to do something a little less demanding, though his own agent has not ruled out the possibility of him playing football again.
Rob Gronkowski officially announced his retirement from football on Sunday, but even the star tight end’s agent is not ruling out the possibility of a return at some point in 2019.
During a Monday appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up!,” Drew Rosenhaus said he would not be surprised if Gronkowski played “a few games” for the Patriots next season if they — and specifically Tom Brady — needed him and reached out.
Drew Rosenhaus on @GetUpESPN on Rob Gronkowski’s future: “If the team was struggling or they needed him at some point next year, and let’s just say hypothetically Tom Brady gave him a call and said ‘Rob, I need you.’ I wouldn’t be shocked if he came back to play a few games.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 25, 2019
Gronkowski’s emotional farewell on Instagram Sunday certainly made it seem as though his decision is permanent, but his agent would have a better idea of his thinking than most.
Interestingly enough, former Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest recently floated the idea of Gronkowski skipping the offseason and the majority of 2019 before returning to play late in the year. The thinking is that the grind of training camp and a full season is too much for Gronk’s body to handle at this point, so it makes some sense. However, it’s unclear if Bill Belichick would be open to such an arrangement.
Gronkowski has a very close relationship with Brady, and it looked like the two were hinting after the Super Bowl that Gronk was planning to play in 2019. Perhaps there’s a scenario where that could still happen.
Rob Gronkowski is retiring from the NFL at the age of 29, but his decision has come at the absolute perfect time for the most Gronk of all reasons.
The New England Patriots tight end announced his retirement on Sunday in a lengthy Instagram post after nine career seasons, five Pro Bowl selections, and three Super Bowl rings. As NFL.com’s Graham Barfield noted, Gronkowski walks away from football as the all-time leader at his position in touchdowns per game, among other stats. He racked up 79 scores over 115 career contests, coming out to a touchdowns per game figure of … 0.69.
Rob Gronkowski retires as the all-time leader among TEs in…
• Yards per game (68.3)
• TDs per game (0.69)
• Yards per target (9.9 – since 1992)
Gronk also ranks 8th-best in receptions per game (4.5) and 4th-best in YPR (15.1).
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) March 24, 2019
Gronkowski has been very open about his love for the number 69 over the years and even achieved another 69-themed statistical feat a little while back. He entered the 2018 campaign with 76 touchdowns in 102 games played (0.74 a contest), but his three scores in 13 games got him to the magic number.
You will have a hard time convincing us that such a poetic and perfectly Gronk ending did not at all factor into the decision to hang up his cleats.
Rob Gronkowski still has not made a decision about whether or not he will play next season, but the New England Patriots apparently feel there is a decent chance he will be back.
Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said this week that Gronk truly still has not made up his mind, but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the Patriots are “tentatively planning” to have the star tight end back. He also notes that people close to Gronk believe he wants to keep playing.
In discussing the TE market, I passed my along what I know on #Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski: His agent says he has not made a firm decision, but the team is tentatively planning as if he'll be there in 2019 and some people close to him believe he wants to play. pic.twitter.com/YRyC36Xaoi
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2019
This is the second consecutive offseason that Gronkowski has openly contemplated retirement, and many believe the fact that the Patriots won the Super Bowl will inspire him to call it a career. However, Gronk is very close with Tom Brady, and one line of thinking is that the quarterback will be able to convince him to return for one more run. Brady and Gronkowski even hinted after the Super Bowl that Gronk will return in 2019.
If Gronkowski does decided to play, former Patriots star Willie McGinest floated an interesting theory about how he might go about it.
Rob Gronkowski still has yet to publicly reveal whether or not he intends to play in 2019, but one former player who is well connected within the New England Patriots organization has an interesting theory about what the star tight end may do.
Willie McGinest, an NFL Network analyst who won three Super Bowls with the Patriots from 1994-2005, predicted on Tuesday that Gronkowski will begin the season retired and end up returning late in the year.
A late start to Gronk's 2019 season?@WillieMcGinest shares his thoughts on the TE’s future
: Free Agency Frenzy pic.twitter.com/CVmVQmcCVK
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 12, 2019
“I think he’s gonna to start out the season being retired,” McGinest said. “I think he’s gonna get the itch. I think he’s gonna be in great shape and he’s probably gonna have that feeling that, ‘Hey, I want to come back.’”
McGinest stressed that he did not have inside information, but it’s worth noting that the former linebacker is the one who introduced Tom Brady to his personal trainer and business partner, Alex Guerrero. Gronkowski also trains with Guerrero, so McGinest may have more knowledge of the situation than he is letting on.
“This is just my own assessment. Later on, deep in the season, he could possibly come back and play,” he added.
This is the second consecutive offseason that Gronkowski has openly contemplated retirement, so the Patriots would be right to question his level of motivation if he did decide to return. While Gronk may have dropped a hint immediately after the Super Bowl that he plans to play in 2019, giving him a special set of circumstances where he can skip training camp and miss the majority of the season might not play well in the locker room. That would be for Bill Belichick to decide.
New England Patriots fans are waiting to hear if Rob Gronkowski plans to play another season in 2019, and apparently the tight end’s agent has no more information about the situation than we do.
Drew Rosenhaus appeared on ESPN’s “NFL Live” Monday, and he said Gronkowski still hadn’t made a decision about his playing future as of Sunday night.
Drew Rosenhaus on NFL LIVE on Rob Gronkowski’s status on a decision to play in 2019: “I talked to Rob last night and he won’t even tell me. He hasn’t made a decision yet… I honestly don’t know. I’m waiting to see like everybody else.”
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 11, 2019
Gronkowski openly contemplated retirement after the Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl last year, so it was widely assumed that this past championship run would be his last one in New England. However, the five-time Pro Bowler appeared to drop a hint recently that he could return for one more season.
With or without Gronkowski, the Patriots will likely address the tight end position in the draft. Gronk’s role in the passing game was cut back drastically last year, and there’s no reason to expect him to return to his old form in 2019 even if he does play.