Rob Gronkowski represents somewhat of a wild card in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense.
Sure, we’re all familiar with Gronk’s résumé, which includes five Pro Bowl selections, four First-Team All-Pro nods and three Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots. But the reality is he’s now 31 years old, didn’t play last season while retired and dealt with a multitude of injuries throughout his nine years in Foxboro.
Not to mention, the Bucs have a surplus of other weapons, including two legitimate pass-catching tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. It might be foolish to expect elite production from Gronkowski — at least from a statistical standpoint — despite his obvious connection with quarterback Tom Brady.
Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was asked Tuesday during a Zoom conference with reporters how he envisions Gronkowski being used. His response did little to solve the mystery.
?The plan is just to get your best players the football, and we don?t really know what that?s gonna mean right now in June. But my mindset is to always put your best players in position to make plays,” Leftwich said. “We?ll do that with him, just like we do with all of our playmakers that we have, and just continuously put him in position to make plays. Who he is, he?ll make more than not, he?ll make more than most. So, we?re just excited to have this type of player.
“Him and Tom have a great relationship with each other. Just watching these guys on tape in the past, watching these guys, just see how they operate. It?s good to have two guys coming together that have been together. So, it should help both guys just fit in as good as possible and we?re just happy to have both.”
The Bucs’ offense has the potential to be explosive this season, as Tampa Bay’s talented tight end trio is joined by Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. That pass-catching depth chart certainly is an upgrade over the supporting cast Brady had in his final season with the Patriots, who leaned heavily on their defense in 2019 thanks in large to a lack of playmakers on offense.
Will Gronk, arguably the best tight end in NFL history, post the huge numbers we grew accustomed to seeing in New England? Maybe not. But he still could be a valuable piece as Tampa Bay looks to achieve its Super Bowl dreams.