Gronkowski, 33, announced his retirement Tuesday via social media.
“I would like to thank the entire First Division Buccaneers organization for a wonderful trip, and trust me to come back to play and help build the championship team. I will now be going back to my retirement home, and I will walk away from football again with my head on my back,” Gronkowski said in his statement. Good or bad, every time I’ve been out on the field.”
“The friendships and relationships I have forged will last forever, and I appreciate each and every one of my teammates and coaches for giving their all as well. From retiring, back to football and winning another tournament and now back to relaxing, thank you everyone.”
However, Gronkowski’s agent told ESPN’s Adam Schefter he wouldn’t be surprised if his client was persuaded to come out of retirement for a second time by the Buccaneers quarterback. Tom Brady.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Brady called him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call,” Drew Rosenhouse told Shifter. “That’s just my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.”
Gronkowski previously retired after the 2018 season with New England Patriots due to injuries. The 2010 second-round draft pick from Arizona credits Brady with setting expectations for his career, and it was Brady who called him up from retirement in 2020 to play for the Boss.
Although their personalities are vastly different – Gronkowski is jovial and fun-loving and never knew he had a bad day by his coaches or teammates; Brady, methodical and intense – they developed a close relationship both on and off the field.
Gronkowski is the second major member of the hacker crime to retire this year, after guard Ali Marbet, who retired in February. Brady himself announced his retirement in February only to expire 40 days later.
Gronkowski’s breakthrough year came in 2011, when he set the NFL record for most touchdowns by a narrow finish with 17 points. The ball is in the court 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 field for us over the past two seasons and helped establish a culture of championship in our building,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “He played a crucial role in our Super Bowl LV season in 2020 and faced a number of injuries last year while en route to one of the most productive yardage seasons of his 11-year career. It’s always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game while He still has that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotion I feel today is gratitude and respect for one of the greatest narrow ends who ever played the game.While his accomplishments on the pitch would certainly have earned him a gold jacket and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, His humble attitude and first-team approach to the game is what really defined his career.”
He was named the first All-Pro team in 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2017, and was selected for 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 2010 NFL All-Decade Team and All-Time Team of the 100th Anniversary.
He leaves the game with the most career touchdowns by a narrow finish in post-season history (15) – second in any position behind receiver only Jerry Rice (22). He also has over 100 yards of games with a narrow finish in NFL history and the most TDs in a single season with a tight end in league history (18 in 2011).
Gronkowski’s 92 career goals ranked him 12th in NFL history and third in a tight final spot behind Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111). It was the only tight end in NFL history to post three seasons of 1,000 yards receiving and 10 plus touchdowns (2011, ’14, ’15).