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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski reportedly “pretty certain” he will return – but questions remain

ESPN's Jeff Darlington reports that Gronkowski does not plan on hanging up his cleats just yet.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-New England Patriots Press Conference Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most tiring stories of this year's offseason – alongside the “why was Malcolm Butler benched for the Super Bowl?”-questions –, is the Rob Gronkowski retirement saga: Following the New England Patriots' Super Bowl loss, the tight end was non-committal about his future in the NFL and ever since that February night, rumors made the rounds.

Now, the next chapter of the story was written. According to ESPN's Jeff Darlington, Gronkowski is pretty certain that he will be back next season:

Gronkowski still hasn’t made a decision, but despite serious considerations since the end of the season of retiring because of physical and mental fatigue, sources say Gronkowski is “pretty certain” he’ll come back as long as Tom Brady remains with the team.

Darlington's report echoes one by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport from late February that the 28-year old is expected to return in 2018. However, it does not put questions to a definitive rest. After all, the physical and mental toll the game took on Gronkowski in the past is reportedly still a big part of his considerations.

Meanwhile, frustrations between him and head coach Bill Belichick remain – most likely stemming from the tight end's workout regimen with Tom Brady's personal health guru, Alex Guerrero. It is also pointed out, however, that any potential friction between player and coach could ease over time if they reach a common ground and Gronkowski continues to buy into the program.

Judging by this latest report, it appears likely that this will happen and the Patriots' most dominant offensive skill position player will in fact return in 2018.