New England Patriots

  • TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 23: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 23: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    For the second time in his career, Rob Gronkowski is hanging up his cleats. The 33-year-old tight end has decided to retire, as first reported by NFL insider Jordan Schultz.

    Gronkowski later confirmed the news with a message on Instagram, writing in part “I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field.”

  • Gronkowski first retired following the 2018 season after nine years with the Patriots. After sitting out the 2019 season, he returned in 2020 to rejoin quarterback Tom Brady, this time in Tampa. He played two seasons with the Buccaneers, with his contract expiring at the end of last season.

    Drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Gronkowski was a dominant force during his time in the league and steps away squarely in the discussion for the greatest tight end in NFL history. Despite being limited by injuries early in his career, Gronkowski led all tight ends in receiving yards four times in his first eight years in the league, and his 2011 season (90 receptions, 1,327 yards and a tight end record 17 touchdowns) is considered one of if not the best ever by a player at the position.

    During his 11-year career, Gronkowski was named a First-Team All-Pro four times, and made five Pro Bowls. He’s a member of the NFL’s All-2010’s team, as well as the 100th Anniversary Team.

    There’s still a chance Gronkowski adds to those numbers too. Shortly after the announcement, ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared a text from Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus, saying “It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call. This is just my opinion but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.”