Rob Gronkowski

NFC Rumors: Gronkowski, Bears, Dean, Graham, Lions, Patterson

In an interview with Sports Illustrated last weekend, free agent tight end Rob Gronkowski was asked about the potential for his return. In reality, the question and answer were played off a bit as a joke.

The reporter specifically asked Gronkowski if he would return should Tampa Bay sign retired wide receiver Julian Edelman. Gronkowski didn’t hesitate to commit to returning for a full season alongside Edelman were that to occur. Realistically, if Gronkowski is to return for another season with the Buccaneers, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones expects that decision to be made after minicamps.

Here are a few more rumors from around the NFC, starting with a rumor out of the Windy City:

  • In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears heavily addressed their offensive line, drafting four offensive linemen and signing one more undrafted free agent lineman. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune expects the team to continue trying to add to the group, saying that they should be on the lookout specifically for “an experienced option to compete for the right guard job.” Biggs also expects Chicago to target veterans at defensive line and wide receiver over the next few weeks.
  • New Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean was expected to be a first round pick during last month’s Draft. Dean was the victim of one of the least predictable slides of all time, falling down to the third round of the Draft due to concerns over his health. Well, according to EJ Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dean has been a full participant in the team’s rookie minicamp, making an effort to disprove the notion many teams held that he would potentially miss his entire rookie season with a pectoral injury.
  • Two games into the 2021 NFL season, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham suffered a season-ending tear of his Achilles tendon. Well, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com, Graham says he feels like the injury never even happened. He will return to the field with no restrictions this preseason. This wouldn’t be the first time Graham has made a full recovery from a long-term injury. He tore his ACL 13 games into his rookie season. Despite the serious injury, Graham has become the impact player he is today, the same player he is expecting to be this upcoming season.
  • Two Thursdays ago, the Lions were more than happy to walk away from the 2022 Draft with the hometown defensive end from Michigan, Aidan Hutchinson. If things had not worked out so perfectly for Detroit, though, and Hutchinson had been told to pack his bags for Duval, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reports that the Lions would have selected the player Jacksonville actually did select, Georgia defensive lineman Travon Walker.
  • Falcons wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has always been a bit of a swiss army knife. He has made impressive plays in the kick and punt return games and, while performing mainly as a wide receiver for most of his career, Patterson has displayed the ability to run the ball when required, as well. After signing to join the Falcons last year, Patterson was asked to run the ball more than ever before, serving as Atlanta’s top rusher in terms of both attempts and yards. Well, Michael Fabiano of Sports Illustrated quoted ESPN’s Michael Rothstein stating his belief that Patterson will return to his primary position, expecting the 31-year old to spend more time at wide receiver than running back next year. Whether this would be a result of offseason additions like free agent signing Damien Williams or newly drafted Keaontay Ingram or if Patterson just requested a return to his natural role, Patterson is expected to take fewer snaps at running back next season.

Latest On TE Rob Gronkowski

While Tom Brady will be back for another season with the Buccaneers, it’s uncertain if his tight end will stick around. Speaking to TMZ Sports, Rob Gronkowski said he was unsure if he’ll play in 2022.

“Right now, I’m not ready to get back out on that field,” Gronkowski said (via ESPN.com). “I’m not ready to commit to the game of football right now.”

“Even in your 30s, I mean, you just can’t just slack it and just be 50% all-in, then you’re going to get caught off with the game and it’s going to just spit you right out. You’ve got to be fully dedicated. I’m not ready to do that yet, I’m not going to sign a contract if I’m not fully ready.”

Gronk has obviously flirted with retirement in the past, sitting out the entire 2019 season. He reunited with Brady in Tampa Bay for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but the tight end has refused to commit to a 2022 campaign. Brady’s retirement and unretirement has fueled talks that Gronkowski could give it one last go, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if the player just decides to hang up his cleats.

Despite only appearing in only 12 games, Gronkowski managed to top his 2020 numbers this past year, finishing with 55 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns. With O.J. Howard heading to Buffalo, Cameron Brate currently leads the depth chart at tight end.

While the 32-year-old didn’t want to discuss his own future, he was more than eager to speak about Brady’s offseason. The tight end admitted that he wasn’t surprised when Brady announced that he was in fact returning for another season in 2022.

“I knew he was going to come back, but I didn’t think he was going to come back this year, to tell you the truth,” he said. “I thought he was going to come back in a year, spend some time with his family.”

Rob Gronkowski Leaning Towards Returning?

With Tom Brady and most of the 2021 Buccaneers roster returning for at least one more season, one of the few remaining questions concerns the future of Rob Gronkowski. According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, there are signs pointing towards the tight end continuing his career (video link). 

[RELATED: Bucs To Re-Sign RB Bernard]

“I don’t see him anywhere else but Tampa if he plays”, La Canfora said. “He’s given some indications that he does expect to play… The band is essentially back.”

Given that, the insider posits that he expects the soon-to-be 33-year-old to ultimately re-sign in Tampa “at his own pace”. While the veteran may not be present for the totality of the Buccaneers’ offseason workouts, he already has a career’s worth of familiarity with Brady and a consistent track record of production.

After un-retiring to reunite with Brady in Tampa, the 2010s All-Decade member has played 28 games with their new team. Over that span, he has made 100 catches for 1,425 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s added another three scores in six playoff contests.

It was reported last week, however, that Gronkowski remained undecided on his football future. He heaped praise on Joe Burrow and the AFC champion Bengals, leading to speculation that could be his next destination. Brady has since un-retired himself, though, so it is expected to be Bucs-or-bust at this time.

Given Tampa Bay’s current cap situation, the team wouldn’t be able to afford to bring Gronkowski back at the $9.25MM he averaged over his two years with the team. Should he choose to continue playing, though, Tampa would surely welcome him back.

Rob Gronkowski Undecided On 2022 Return

Tom Brady‘s unretirement made Rob Gronkowski extending his own unretirement to a third year expected, but the future Hall of Fame tight end is not a lock to return.

Gronkowski is undecided on playing in 2022, agent Drew Rosenhaus said (via NFL.com’s Cameron Wolfe, on Twitter). The Buccaneers remain interested in keeping the decorated tight end, and Rosenhaus was in discussions with the team Wednesday. But Gronk remains on the fence, for the time being.

It would surprise if Gronk did not return. Not only has the soon-to-be 33-year-old pass catcher been tied to Brady throughout his career, he offered effusive praise for Joe Burrow, hinting at possible interest in joining the Bengals as a free agent. Those comments came before Brady re-emerged. Should Gronk play in 2022, he is widely expected to do so in Tampa.

The Bucs are giving the five-time All-Pro time to make his decision and are steadily reassembling their Super Bowl-winning crew. Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette are back in the fold, and Ndamukong Suh has discussed the prospect of playing a fourth Bucs season with the team’s coaching staff.

Although Gronkowski’s 2020 unretirement preceded a season in which he played all 20 Bucs games and helped the team win Super Bowl LV, he battled injuries again in 2021. The former injury-prone Patriots dynamo missed five games last season due to broken ribs. Gronk still managed six touchdown catches and topped his 2020 receiving output by posting 802 yards — his most since his 2017 All-Pro season — for the NFC South champions.

Gronk signed a one-year, $8MM deal to return in 2021, doing so on March 15 of last year. The Bucs now have Russell Gage in the fold but have lost O.J. Howard in free agency. Gronk can certainly demand similar money for 2022, but the Bucs continue to wait on his decision.

Tom Brady Coming Out Of Retirement, Will Rejoin Bucs

It looks like the Buccaneers’ quarterback questions have been answered for now. Get comfortable, Kyle Trask, you’ve got a bit longer to wait. After 40 days of retirement, Tom Brady has announced he will return for his 23rd season of NFL football in a tweet this evening. He announced he has unfinished business in Tampa after the team lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year to the eventual-Super Bowl Champion Rams. 

Rumors of a Brady unretirement had persisted since his February 1st announcement. Brady even hinted at the possibility of a Favre-like return, coming back just in time for training camp. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, made it very clear that they had no intention of allowing Brady to play elsewhere for the 2022 NFL Season. It turns out, they have nothing to worry about for now. Brady cited his love for his teammates in his unretirement announcement.

Some details will need to be hashed out as Brady still had four years on his contract, with all years after 2022 being voided upon his retirement. Past that, Tampa Bay has several offensive pieces set to become unrestricted free agents including center Ryan Jensen, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, and running backs Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, and Giovani Bernard. If they are going to attempt another glory run, these loose ends will need to be tied up.

In response to the news, no one is more happy to see the quarterback return than Rams’ cornerback Jalen Ramsey who was set to spend eternity as the last person to have Tom Brady throw a touchdown on them. On the other hand, no one is less happy to see the quarterback return than the unfortunate big-spender who just dropped $518,000 at an auction in a bid to receive Tom Brady’s final touchdown ball. Looks like there will be many other balls getting thrown past many other defensive backs before Brady retires again.

Bills Interested In Rob Gronkowski

Long tethered to Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski has not informed the Buccaneers he is retiring just yet. Another contending team is interested to see if Gronk would continue his career now that his longtime quarterback has retired.

The Bills are interested in adding Gronkowski as a free agent, Tim Graham of The Athletic reports (subscription required). Buffalo discussed a deal with Gronk last year, but the future Hall of Famer opted to rejoin Brady in Tampa for the Bucs’ title-defense season.

Gronkowski, 32, is a Buffalo-area native who naturally grew up a Bills fan. He has also been connected to another AFC team with a young star at quarterback. Gronk mentioned teaming up with Joe Burrow last month. The Bills have their own blossoming QB standout in Josh Allen, and pairing Gronkowski and Dawson Knox would represent a formidable tight end duo alongside the team’s Stefon Diggs-led wideout corps.

Despite missing five games due to injury, Gronkowski was more productive in his second Bucs season. The all-time great surpassed his 2020 numbers by catching 55 passes for 802 yards. Gronk made it through all 20 Bucs games in 2020 and came up big for Brady in Super Bowl LV, catching two touchdown passes in Tampa Bay’s romp. Gronk’s 15 playoff touchdown catches rank only behind Jerry Rice‘s 22 in NFL history.

The Bucs traded for Gronkowski, who unretired after missing the 2019 season, in 2020 and then re-signed him last year as part of their run-it-back effort. Gronk played on a one-year, $8MM agreement. Gronk said in late January he would say no to playing a 12th NFL season, and Bruce Arians said Tuesday it is not certain the two-year Bucs contributor wants to play again (Twitter link via Pewter Report). But Arians noted Gronk has been coming to the team’s facility twice a week for workouts. That and Gronk’s Burrow comments certainly indicate a curiosity in extending his career post-Brady.

Rob Gronkowski Eyeing Bengals For 2022?

Rob Gronkowski is facing another decision regarding his playing career. With Tom Brady out of the league, the pending free agent is expected to follow his longtime teammate into retirement. If he does continue his career, though, Cincinnati may be his next destination. 

[Related: Tom Brady Confirms Retirement]

During an interview published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the 32-year-old expressed an admiration of Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. “I watched him in college. I just love the way he presents himself out on the football field. In the pocket, he’s just so calm and he just slings it out on the field”, he said. “If I had to pick a quarterback, it’d be the young buck Joe Burrow. He’s killing it right now in the game“.

Gronkowski has repeatedly said – and proved, when he unretired to play in Tampa Bay – that he would only catch passes from Brady. He also made it clear before the beginning of this season that he is playing on a year-to-year basis. To that point, Chase Goodbread of NFL.com writes that Gronkowski “was leaning toward hanging up his cleats” after the team’s Divisional Round loss, but notes that he has not officially made a decision one way or the other.

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht is leaving the door open to bringing Gronkowski back. ““I don’t think it’s going to be [dependent] on whether [Brady] came back or not” he said. “I know that Rob had an incredible experience here as well, and he was a big factor in us having the success that we did. We would welcome Rob back with open arms, but we’re giving him the space right now to decide what he wants to do”.

The fit with the Bengals could be a good one for Gronkowski. If C.J. Uzomah, who has earned himself a large payday with his production this season, leaves in free agency, there would be an opening at the tight end position in Cincinnati. Gronkowski, for his part, proved he can still be productive at this point in his career, posting 55 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games this year. The yardage total was his highest since an All-Pro 2017 campaign in New England.

If he does decide to keep playing, Gronkowski could be on the move for a second time, in this case to a team that will, at a minimum, enter 2022 as the reigning AFC champions. Whether he decides to retire a second time, or if the Bengals would even be interested in him, remains to be seen.

Buccaneers’ Rob Gronkowski To Miss Time

The Buccaneers will be without Rob Gronkowski for at least a little while. The veteran tight end will likely miss Sunday’s game against the Washington Football Team and could be sidelined for “about two or three weeks,” according to head coach Bruce Arians (Twitter link via SiriusXM).

We think in about two or three weeks, he’ll be back to normal. Gronk is gonna get better, and [we’re] just gonna make sure he’s good when he comes back,” Arians said. “We think that next week is a better time frame for him [coming back]. We kinda pushed it with the New Orleans thing. I want him ready to go the whole distance when we’re ready to go.”

Gronk has already missed five games this season with a previous rib injury. This time around, it’s a recurrence of his previous back issues, so the Bucs are playing it safe.

Before the rib injury — and related lung issues — the 32-year-old was enjoying a hot start to the season, notching four touchdowns through the first three weeks. To date, he has 16 catches for 184 yards and four scores across four games.

Despite the setbacks, Gronkowski remains one of the game’s most dangerous tight ends when he’s healthy. Last year, the veteran registered 45 catches for 623 yards and seven touchdowns in a complete 16-game slate. Later on, he showed up big in the Super Bowl, leading all receivers with six grabs for 67 yards and two TDs en route to the ‘chip.

For now, the Bucs expect to see Gronk return no later than Dec. 5, when they face the Falcons in Atlanta.

Antonio Brown Facing Extended Absence?

The ankle injury that kept Antonio Brown out of the Buccaneers’ Week 7 game could sideline him for a while. Brown was spotted using a crutch Wednesday, and Bruce Arians said the injury could be “more long-term.” (Twitter links via The Athletic’s Greg Auman).

Being iffy on Brown returning immediately after the Bucs’ Week 9 bye, Arians essentially confirmed the team does not expect him for Sunday’s game in New Orleans. An IR move would shelve Brown until Week 12. Brown is dealing with an ankle sprain near his heel, Arians said. As of now, the Bucs are not considering a Brown IR stay, Auman tweets.

This would be Brown’s first multigame injury-related absence since December 2017, when a partially torn calf sustained against the Patriots sidelined him for the Steelers’ final two regular-season games. Although Brown missed most of the 2019 and ’20 seasons due to off-field issues, he has not run into much injury trouble. A COVID-19 contraction and this ankle malady have interfered with what has otherwise looked like a Brown bounce-back season.

Brown, 33, has 29 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns in five games. The Bucs played without Brown and Rob Gronkowski in Week 7, having no issue doing so in beating the Bears 38-3. Gronkowski also returned to practice Wednesday, marking a sign he is on track to return after a four-game absence.

Bucs’ Antonio Brown To Miss Week 7

The Buccaneers will be without both their Tom Brady hired guns Sunday. In addition to Rob Gronkowski‘s fourth absence this season, Antonio Brown will not play in Week 7.

Bruce Arians confirmed the Bucs ruled out Brown for their Bears matchup. An ankle injury kept Brown off the practice field this week. This will be Brown’s second absence this season. He missed Week 3 because of a positive COVID-19 test but returned the following week.

Despite missing the bulk of the past two seasons, Brown has re-emerged as one of the NFL’s top receivers this year. He has posted two 100-yard games and over the past two weeks has hauled in 16 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns. The 33-year-old target is well on his way to an eighth 1,000-yard season. With Brown and Scotty Miller sidelined, second-year receiver Tyler Johnson (seven catches, 110 yards this season) will be positioned as a bigger part of the Bucs’ offense.

Tampa Bay will also be without Lavonte David and Richard Sherman against Chicago. Gronkowski is still recovering from the rib injury he suffered in Week 3. The Bucs elected not to place Gronk on IR.