Gronk out: Star tight end retires for the 2nd time

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is calling it a career again.

Gronkowski, 33, announced his retirement on Tuesday via social media.

“I want to thank the entire first-class Buccaneers organization for an incredible run, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team. I will now be returning to my retirement home, stepping away again football with my head held high knowing that I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped onto the pitch,” Gronkowski said in his statement.

“The friendships and relationships I’ve made will last forever, and I appreciate each of my teammates and coaches for giving their all as well. From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now to relax, thank you all.”

However, Gronkowski’s agent told ESPN’s Adam Schefter he wouldn’t be surprised if his client could be brought out of retirement for the second time by Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Tom Brady called him during the season to come back and Rob answered the call,” Drew Rosenhaus told Schefter. “That’s just my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob came back during the season or next season.”

Gronkowski previously retired after the 2018 season with the New England Patriots due to injury. Arizona’s 2010 second-round pick largely credits Brady for setting expectations for his career, and it was Brady who called him back to retirement in 2020 to play for the Bucs.

Although their personalities differed wildly – ​​fun-loving, fun-loving Gronkowski never had a bad day from coaches or teammates; Brady, methodical and intense, they have developed a close relationship both on and off the pitch.

“Teammate, friend, brother, some of the words that come to mind when I think of @gronk. No one has ever embodied the idea of ​​’leaving it all on the pitch’ like Rob did all Throughout his Snap, I knew that no matter how many people you put in front of him, he would come in his place,” Brady wrote in an Instagram post.

“Even more importantly, he was the person he was off the court. Focused when needed and FUN the rest of the time. Having Gronk in your locker room was every NFL player’s dream. I’m proud for all that we have achieved together, and even more excited for all that you have ahead of you. Congratulations Gronk, you deserve it.

Gronkowski is the second key member of the Buccaneers offense to retire this year, following guard Ali Marpet, who retired in February. Brady himself announced his retirement in February only to not retire again 40 days later.

Without Gronkowski, the Buccaneers’ tight end depth chart for next season includes veteran Cameron Brate, 2022 draft picks Cade Otton (fourth round) and Ko Kieft (sixth round) and Codey McElroy.

Gronkowski’s breakthrough year came in 2011, when he set the NFL record for most touchdowns by a tight end with 17. The year before, Gronk unveiled what became known as his signature move – the “Gronk Spike”, where he forcefully slammed the ball downfield after every touchdown he scored.

Gronkowski won four Super Bowls — three with the Patriots (XLIX, LI, LIII) and one with the Buccaneers (LV) in 2020, a game in which he had two touchdowns, or “tuddies” as he liked to call them .

“Rob is a true professional who has left everything on the court for us over the past two seasons and helped establish a championship culture in our building,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “He played a crucial role in our Super Bowl LV championship season in 2020 and battled a number of injuries last year while on his way to one of the most receiving yardage seasons. most productive of his 11-year career. It’s always hard to see a great player walk away from the game while he’s still enjoying that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotions I feel today are gratitude and respect. for one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. While his accomplishments on the pitch will surely earn him a gold jacket and a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s his humble attitude and his team-oriented approach to the game that really defined his career.”

Gronkowski was named a first-team All-Pro in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017, and was selected to five Pro Bowls (2011, ’12, ’14, ’15 and ’17). He led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2011 and was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2014. He was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 2010s and its 100th All-Time Team anniversary.

He leaves the game with the most career touchdowns by a tight end in playoff history (15) — and the second most at any position behind lone receiver Jerry Rice (22). He also has the most 100-yard games per tight end in NFL history and the most single-season touchdowns per tight end in league history (18 in 2011).

Gronkowski’s 92 career touchdowns are 12th in NFL history and third behind Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111). He was the only tight end in NFL history to record three seasons of 1,000 receiving yards and 10+ touchdowns (2011, ’14, ’15).

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