Just how close did Rob Gronkowski come to retiring after last season?

It’s a question that matters little in hindsight, as Gronkowski ultimately returned for a ninth NFL season. But it’s still interesting to consider, especially with the All-Pro tight end often looking sluggish and disengaged during the 2018 campaign.

ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio, in fact, can’t help but wonder whether Gronkowski would have walked away had the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. Florio also explained Friday on WEEI’s “Mut & Callahan” that he expects the Patriots star to retire after this season.

“I firmly believe (Gronkowski) would’ve retired if the Patriots beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl,” Florio said, per WEEI.com. “Remember that press conference after the Super Bowl where they asked him about those rumors and he said, ‘I don’t know how you found out about that.’ That confirms there’s a that to have found out about.

“I think he has family members trying to get him to walk away because of concerns over head trauma and he can make a ton of money just being Gronk. I’d be surprised if he’s back next year.”

Gronkowski’s numbers are down across the board this season. He has battled more injuries and just hasn’t looked like himself. It’s reasonable to think the 29-year-old will at least consider retirement (again) this offseason despite being under contract with New England for 2019. There’s also a chance Bill Belichick and Co. would prefer to move on from Gronkowski given his lackluster 2018.

“I think he’d retire before he’d play somewhere else just because if it’s done, it’s done,” Florio said of Gronkowski’s future, per WEEI.com. “Even though he comes off as a doofus at times, some of that is calculated. I think he’s very self-aware and he’ll know that it’s time to move on.”

Gronkowski enters the Patriots’ Week 17 matchup against the New York Jets with 45 catches for 658 yards with three touchdowns in 12 games. He was held without a catch in New England’s Week 16 win over the Buffalo Bills as the Patriots used a run-heavy approach.

Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images