Ever since last year’s Super Bowl, retirement rumors have followed New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. While he caught nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns during the team’s losing effort, he would not comment on his future immediately after the game. Gronkowski’s intentions remained the subject of speculation until he officially declared that he would return to the team in late April.
Nine months later it appears we are once again headed toward the same situation. According to a report by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the 29-year old will once again consider stepping away from the game whenever the Patriots’ current playoff run comes to an end:
He is expected to do the same thing this year, strongly consider retirement. And people who know him believe that he will go the other way this year. In other words, there is a strong possibility that we have seen the last of Rob Gronkowski on the field after the Patriots are out of the playoffs whenever it ends up being. This year really has taken an emotional toll on him, it has been difficult at various times. Do not be surprised, if Gronkowski ends his football career and ends up as a wrestler, actor, something like that.
Gronkowski’s 2018 season so far was indeed a difficult one for him. While he is still standing out as a blocker, he has been inconsistent as a pass catcher and finished the regular season with just 47 catches for 682 yards and three touchdowns — all while battling with ankle and back injuries that limited him to 13 games. At times, the five-time Pro Bowler seemed to lack the same energy he brought to the table in previous years.
As was the case last year, of course, the situation likely remains fluid and could change depending on how Gronkowski feels and performs the next few weeks. But as Rapoport pointed out, seeing him step away would not be the biggest of surprises this offseason — and in turn leave the Patriots with a massive hole in their offense.