Rob Gronkowski made it clear after Super Bowl LV that he has no plans to retire (again) this offseason.
One of Gronkowski’s former teammates doesn’t believe the star tight end will return to Tampa Bay next season, however.
Gronkowski this offseason will have the opportunity to test free agency for the first time in his NFL career. Despite the future Hall of Famer winning a championship in his first season with Tampa Bay, ex-New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich believes Gronkowski will leave Tom Brady this spring and return to the AFC East.
“So Rob Gronkowski has not been a free agent ever in his career. This is the first time he’s actually been a free agent in the open market where he can choose to go wherever he wants,” Ninkovich said Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up.” “I think he’s going to stay in Florida, but he’s going to go to the Miami Dolphins. He’s got a place in Miami, it’s a good spot for him. No state income tax, right? He’s going to stay in that category.”
That said, Ninkovich doesn’t believe Gronkowski will be catching passes from Tua Tagovailoa in South Beach.
“I think Deshaun Watson is going to be his quarterback because B-Flo (Brian Flores) is going to call up (Nick) Caserio, is going to say, ‘Hey, I got the third overall pick in the first round, I got (No.) 18 in the first round, I got (No.) 36 in the second round and I got Tua. How about Deshaun comes over to Miami?’ ” Ninkovich said. “I think you’re going to have a Gronk-Deshaun Watson duo next year.”
Even if Watson was in the fold with the Dolphins, it might not be enough to motivate Gronkowski to leave the Bucs. Brady is the only NFL quarterback Gronkowski has ever known, and Tampa Bay is set up for sustained success in 2021. The Bucs should be able to retain the majority of their marquee free agents, and the path to an NFC South crown is far from daunting.
Gronkowski already has said he doesn’t see why he wouldn’t be back with the Bucs next season (and potentially beyond). Tampa Bay presents a great opportunity for Gronk to bolster his already loaded football résumé, and it sure feels like a virtual lock we’ll see him back in a Bucs uniform this fall.