These 5 NFL Teams Good Fits For Retired Star Rob Gronkowski
GronkowskiGate keeps getting bigger. Rob Gronkowski retired from the NFL last March and everyone assumed the Pro Bowl tight end would jump on a party boat and ride off into the sunset. Not so fast. Gronkowski has stirred rumors of a possible comeback multiple times in the past week.
It all started when the former Patriot was spotted running routes and catching passes with Tom Brady at UCLA. According to TMZ Sports, a slimmed-down Gronkowski joked that Brady needed “Mr. Reliable Robbie G.” The flames were further stoked when the 30-year-old told NFL Network’s Rich Eisen that he is relaxing now, but may miss it when the games start rolling around.
“There’s definitely going to be times when you miss it,” Gronkowski told Eisen. “It’s still the offseason now. I can’t really say how I’m going to feel about it when the games start rolling around and everything. I just felt it was time. I feel really good right now. I’ve been playing football for 15 straight years of that grind. Just relaxing right now feels good.”
Gronkowski might just be messing with everyone, most likely the case. However, let’s take a look at some potential landing spots.
1. New England Patriots
Technically, Gronkowski is still under contract so any comeback starts and ends with New England. He was due $9 million in base salary in 2019, plus additional incentives. If he were to unretire the Patriots still control his rights and they would have to agree to trade him if he didn’t want to play there. There was no love lost between Gronkowski and head coach Bill Belichick at the end of their player-coach marriage, causing many to speculate that is one of the reasons the tight end retired. But Gronkowski and Brady remain tight — as evidenced by their training session at UCLA — and the quarterback ultimately runs the show. Gronkowski could be a very intriguing piece to add for a playoff run.
2. New Orleans Saints
The Saints went out and inked free agent Jared Cook to a two-year, $15.5 million deal in the offseason. The 11-year NFL veteran is a nightmare matchup, at 6-foot-5, who is coming off a career-high 68 catches in Oakland last season, not bad for a 32-year-old tight end. But head coach Sean Payton has never been one to limit the amount of talent on his roster — remember, he brought in mercurial receiver Dez Bryant late last year before he tore his ACL — and Gronkowksi fits his offensive scheme. Plus, Drew Brees was seen chatting up Gronkowski at the ESPY Awards where they looked pretty chummy on the red carpet.
3. New York Jets
New head coach Adam Gase knows a thing or two about how rare Gronkowski’s talent is, something he’s had to gameplan for twice a year as an opposing coach for the Miami Dolphins. Now Gase is leading the Jets, the Patriots’ main divisional rival in the AFC East, and what better way to shove it in Belichick’s face than by luring Gronkowski to New York. Gase admitted back in March that he didn’t think Gronkowski was finished when he told Adam Schefter: “I’ll believe it when we walk out there and he’s not out there.” The Jets are in desperate need of a tight end, too, with Chris Herndon serving as the only real threat on the roster. One wrinkle: Jets CEO Christopher Johnson admitted that he “always wished Gronk was a Jet.”
4. Detroit Lions
The Patriots already explored trading the tight end to Detroit last year, much to Gronkowski’s chagrin. He balked at the potential move and threatened retirement before the 2018 season even began. “Wasn’t going anywhere without Brady,” he said. That being said, he does have a history with Lions head coach Matt Patricia who spent 14 seasons as an assistant under Belichick in New England. Obviously, the familiarity is there. The Lions selected a tight end with their first pick in the NFL Draft, T.J. Hockensen out of Iowa, and took another one, Isaac Nauta out of Georgia, in the seventh round. Who better than Gronkowski to teach the young guys how to be an elite player? No one.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
The dark horse — extreme dark horse candidate. Look, there is no need for any more weapons on offense, especially not at the tight end spot with Pro Bowler Zach Ertz and second-year phenom Dallas Goedert poised to break out. They are set. But what if the injury bug bites the Eagles? GM Howie Roseman has never been shy about picking up the phone and spinning the tires on mid-season trades (for example, his trade for Jay Ajayi in 2018 arguably won them the Super Bowl). If Gronkowski is still sitting out there in late October and he can help the Eagles, he’ll make that call. Gronkowski has already gone on record saying that his desire — if he has any desire to return – is strictly for a playoff run.
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