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#pounditThursday, September 23, 2021

Patriots temporarily gave away Rob Gronkowski’s old number to rookie

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski’s number hasn’t been officially retired by the New England Patriots. They offered a reminder of that recently when they gave it away for the first time since the tight end’s departure — to a tryout rookie, no less.

As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN, wide receiver Devin Ross wore Gronkowski’s old No. 87 during his recent tryout, raising some eyebrows. The Patriots ended up signing Ross to their 90-man camp roster, but with a new number — No. 8. It’s not clear if that was the plan all along or if the Patriots had second thoughts about giving Gronkowski’s old number to a rookie receiver — or anyone else, for that matter.

It’s too early for the Patriots to retire any numbers from their two-decade dynasty. It’s almost certain Tom Brady’s No. 12 will not be worn again by a New England player. Guys like Gronkowski are more of a question, though he will forever be closely associated with that period of time in Patriots history.

There doesn’t appear to be any animosity between Gronk and the Patriots. For that and many other reasons, it wouldn’t really be a shock if the franchise keeps No. 87 out of circulation at least for a while.

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