Rob Gronkowski caught one pass Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers, ultimately rumbling his way to a 25-yard gain, delighting more than 65,000 New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The crowd’s roar might be the final time Patriots fans get a chance to cheer the tight end’s efforts on the Foxboro field, as it seems retirement is a legitimate possibility for No. 87.
Gronkowski’s retirement dance is nothing new, and he even threatened to walk away last spring, but NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport doubled down Monday on his previous reporting when discussing Gronkowski’s future, saying it’s “very possible” Gronkowski retires whenever this season comes to an end for New England.
“I’ve talked to several people close to Gronk who do believe that whenever the season ends — obviously it was not going to be (Sunday) with the way the Patriots played against the Chargers — they believe Gronk will sit down and strongly consider retirement,” Rapoport said on “Good Morning Football” on Monday morning. “He did the same thing last year and actually threatened to retire rather than be traded to the Detroit Lions. But those people who know him very well believe that when he contemplates this, he will likely go the other way. In other words, there’s a good chance that we’ve seen the last of Rob Gronkowski whenever this year ends.”
It’s doubtful this comes as much of a surprise to anyone who’s followed Gronkowski’s story closely. He flirted with retirement in the days leading up to Super Bowl LII and sounded less than enthused about returning in the moments following the Patriots’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The dance continued into what was a bizarre offseason for the former All-Pro, as rumors of his unhappiness and questions about the future apparently led the Patriots to explore trades. He forced his hand to stay in New England, but he hasn’t been the normal dominant player we’ve come to expect, and Rapoport also noted this season has been a challenge for Gronkowski.
“Of course, he’s been through so much physically, my understanding is this year has taken an emotional toll on him,” Rapoport added. “He’s been through a lot and clearly maybe not the same player he’s been, so this could be Gronk’s last hurrah here.”
Obviously, the Patriots hope that there are still at least two more games in Gronkowski’s career, as winning a third Super Bowl certainly would be a fitting way for one of the greatest tight ends to ever play to ride off into the sunset.