Could Rob Gronkowski come out of retirement and force his way to Bucs?
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have a very close relationship, and there has naturally been speculation about Gronk wanting to come out of retirement to join Brady in his new journey with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In order to make that happen, the star right end would either need the Patriots to release his rights or trade him. And that may not be as farfetched as it sounds.
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes, Gronkowski’s $9 million salary would go back on the books for the Patriots if he unretired and the team chose to keep him. With Brady already carrying a dead cap hit of $13.5 million for New England in 2020, the team has barely any salary cap space remaining. Therefore, it’s possible — if not probable — that the Patriots would have no interest in keeping Gronk on their roster even if he did decide to return.
In some sense, that gives Gronkowski leverage. He could probably find out fairly easily whether or not the Patriots would keep him on their roster. If the answer is “no” as many expect, he could come out of retirement with the assumption that they will cut him or trade him. Florio and his colleague Chris Simms recently speculated that New England might be interested in the idea of the Bucs trading them either tight end O.J. Howard or Cameron Brate for Gronkowski. While all of this seems unlikely, it certainly is not out of the question.
The Patriots are rebuilding on offense, so they probably don’t want to pay Gronkowski $9 million even if they could create the cap space. The tight end broke down toward the end of his tenure with the team, and he is now a full year removed from football.
Gronkowski essentially blocked a trade from happening a few years back because he didn’t want to play with any quarterback other than Brady, so it would stand to reason that he still feels the same way. Whether or not he has a desire to return to playing is another question.