Patriots Would Welcome Back Retired Rob Gronkowski ‘With Open Arms’


Jul 24, 2019

FOXBORO, MASS. — Whether they want to admit it or not, it’s going to be difficult for the New England Patriots to adjust to life without Rob Gronkowski.

Gronkowski, 30, retired this offseason as one of the all-time greats at his position after just nine NFL seasons. The Patriots are left with Matt LaCosse, Ben Watson, Lance Kendricks, Stephen Anderson, Andrew Beck and Ryan Izzo at tight end. It’s not reasonable to expect any of those players to replace Gronkowski’s production.

There has been speculation, however, that Gronkowski could get the itch to return to the field at some point this season.

So, how would the Patriots welcome him back in this hypothetical situation?

“With open arms, I’m sure,” safety Devin McCourty said Wednesday when the Patriots reported for training camp. “For us as players, we don’t have time to think about that. I think at the end of the day, he’ll do what’s best for him. Anyone who comes into this locker room is welcomed with open arms. Whether it’s from retirement, from your eighth team, it doesn’t matter. We accept all guys. We took my brother (Jason McCourty) last year and he struggled for nine years in the NFL. You talk about a guy like Gronk coming back, I think that’d be a lot easier.”

The Patriots are transitioning to life without Gronkowski, but they will miss him on and off the field.

“There’s only one Gronk,” running back James White said. “You can’t replace that personality. A great football player, but you’ve got to play with who’s out there.

“There are going to be a lot of things we’ll miss,” wide receiver Matthew Slater said. “Rob was one of kind, obviously on the field with what he’s able to do as a player. We saw that each and every week over the last nine years. But I think his fun-loving spirit and personality, and his child-like joy that he brought each and every day to the workplace, his humility. Just a genuine human being. Those things are hard to come by in today’s time. So, we’ll miss that.

If a single tight end currently on the roster can’t replace Gronkowski, then that means other players from other positions will have to chip in, as well. Among those candidates are White, running backs Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris as well as wide receivers N’Keal Harry, Maurice Harris, Phillip Dorsett, Dontrelle Inman, and Demaryius Thomas.

“Obviously, (he was) a huge part of the organization for nine years,” McCourty said. “I got to come in here with him as a rookie and go through a lot together. But we’ll see how it goes. I think that’s the thing in football. The one thing that is consistent is change. We all know it’s going to happen. Excited to go into this year.

“He’s looking like he’s having an awesome time on Instagram. Really happy for him to have a great career and leave the game on your own terms, so we’ll see how it works out for us.”

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
Previous Article

Red Sox Notes: Alex Cora Gives His Take On Very Bizarre Delay Vs. Rays

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora
Next Article

Alex Cora Praises Rays’ Charlie Morton For ‘Excellent’ Outing Vs. Red Sox

Picked For You