We have no reason to believe that Rob Gronkowski will return this season.

However, if the future Hall of Fame tight end indeed wants to come back for the stretch run, he must inform the New England Patriots by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Despite teasing NFL fans throughout the 2019 season, Gronkowski, when pushed, has insisted he will remain retired through the remainder of the campaign. His most definitive statement yet occurred during last week’s episode of “FOX NFL Sunday.”

Still, the Patriots couldn’t just use a player of Gronkowski’s caliber — they¬†need him.

Be it injuries, age, lack of high-end talent or a combination of all three, the Patriots have received virtually nothing from the tight end position this season. All but gone are the game-breaking seam routes down the middle of the field, and with them the respect from opposing defenses. Above all else, the absence of Gronkowski has prevented Patriots running backs from running to the edges with any consistency.

Will a savior arrive this afternoon? We’ll find out soon enough.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images