FOXBORO, MASS. — It’s nearly been a year since rumors of a rift within the New England Patriots first began to swirl.

And after a nice break, those rumors are back.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been at the center of the team’s reported dysfunction, going so far as to threaten retirement and even admit an offseason trade nearly went down. All along, rumors of Gronkowski being dissatisfied with life under Bill Belichick have persisted.

The 29-year-old ultimately returned for the 2018 season, but has battled injuries as well as a noticeable decrease in explosiveness since Week 1. And while Gronkowski hasn’t publicly expressed angst over life with the Patriots, behind the scenes, the All-Pro tight end reportedly is far from happy.

“Gronkowski is still dealing with back and ankle injuries,” ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported Sunday, via WEEI. “He was eventually taken off the injury report this week, but after speaking with several sources this is still something to watch when it comes to Gronkowski down the stretch. I am told Gronkowski is still dealing with some hardships when it comes to dealing with the rigors of The Patriot Way and the rigors and the beating that his body is taking.

“Last year at this time it was a similar situation that led to a lot of those questions in the offseason. We’re now back in a situation where Gronkowski is quite frankly very tired, but Tom Brady believes that this a team that now has a bunch of different weapons on the field at the same time and that could change things. So while Gronkowski might be feeling the effects of the season now, if they can get some momentum with other weapons on the field, everything the Patriots believe could potentially change.”

As Darlington noted, nagging injuries appear to be playing a big role in Gronkowski’s reported frustration. But the fact that rumors of a disconnect between Gronkowski and Belichick continue to pop up should concern Patriots fans.

There’s no telling what the future holds for Gronkowski and the Patriots. He might be back next season, and he might not. Still, it’s looking more and more like Gronkowski’s days in New England are numbered.

Thumbnail photo via Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports Images