Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski Nearing Deal With WWE

Retired Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is nearing a deal with WWE, per Marc Raimondi of ESPN.com. Raimondi cites a report from FS1’s WWE Backstage Program, which said that Gronk could appear on WWE SmackDown as early as March 20.

Otherwise, the role that WWE has in mind for Gronkowski is unclear. The 30-year-old future Hall of Famer was involved in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33 in 2017, but said he did not see himself as a full-time wrestler. He spoke over the summer about taking part in “one crazy match” in five years or so, but perhaps he has changed his mind in the regard.

After all, when asked over the course of the 2019 season about a possible return to football, Gronkowski’s answers varied wildly. One minute he said he had shut the door on that chapter of his life, and the next he was hemming and hawing about keeping that door open. Though injuries and the ability to walk away from the NFL on the heels of a Super Bowl win helped contribute to his retirement decision, it has never felt like a certainty that he would stay retired.

And it’s also unlikely that his pending role with WWE, regardless of what it is, would prevent him from returning to the gridiron if he chooses to do so. He would certainly attract plenty of interest, because despite the early retirement, he finished his career in the top-10 in terms of receiving yards and touchdowns for a tight end. His blocking abilities, which were just as much a part of the Patriots’ steamroller offenses as his receiving acumen, have led some to consider him the greatest TE of all time.

In his career, Gronk earned over $50MM from the Patriots and took home three Super Bowl rings. His accomplishments and his gregarious personality will probably keep him in high demand for any number of on-camera roles for the foreseeable future.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Gronk, Jets

On Super Bowl week, former Patriots star Rob Gronkowski explained just how dejected he was during his final season on the field.

I 100 percent lost a step (in my last year). I actually lost like three steps some games,” Gronk told Barstool Sports (Twitter link via WEEI’s Ryan Hannable). “I didn’t even want to be out there on the field. I was like, ‘Yo, I feel like complete ass. Coach, put Dwayne (Allen) in, I don’t even care.’ I was at that point.”

Gronk is retired, for now, but he continues to leave the door open, in case his motivation returns. The tight end’s latest comments shed some light on his mindset in his final games, however, so it might take a lot for Gronkowski to lace ’em up again.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Patriots Rumors: Videotaping, Brady, Gronk

The league’s investigation into the Patriots’ videotaping incident is still ongoing, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed on Wednesday. The process has already taken roughly two months and Goodell says he won’t rush things along.

Our responsibility is to make sure we’re being extremely thorough,” Goodell said (via Ryan Hannable of WEEI). “We have a responsibility to 31 other clubs, we have a responsibility to partners, we have a responsibility to fans understand all of what happened, and to make sure that something that we don’t know happened didn’t happen. And so, from our standpoint we want to make sure we are being thorough. Our team has been on it. We have been focused on this. I think it has not been that lengthy of time. We obviously put the focus on it, but we are going to get it right. When we come to a conclusion, we’ll certainly make sure that people are aware of it.”

When the investigation finally wraps, the Patriots may face fines and/or the forfeiture of a draft pick.

Here’s more from New England:

  • During his Super Bowl week media availability, Rob Gronkowski was, predictably, asked about the possibility of returning to football. The longtime Patriots tight end, in turn, gave a predictable answer that won’t do much to silence the speculation. “Oh, man, I don’t know,” Gronkowski said when asked if he’ll ever come out of retirement. “I’m a young guy — 30 years old. I still love to workout, stay in shape. Like I said, I’ve answered this question many, many times. I will never say complete no, because I love playing sports. I love competing.”
  • Meanwhile, Gronk says he supports Tom Brady‘s desire to explore free agency this offseason (via Nick Goss of NBC Sports). “He’s going to be a free agent for the first time ever. Good for him,” Gronk said. “Test out the market, and then do what’s best for himself. That’s the decision he has to make — what’s best for himself, what’s best for his family, what he feels like he’s going to love.”
  • Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia announced that he will retire this offseason. Scarnecchia spent 34 years on the Pats’ staff and served as an assistant for ten of their eleven Super Bowl appearances.

 

Rob Gronkowski Ineligible To Return In 2019

It’s officially official. Rob Gronkowski is no longer eligible to return to the NFL in 2019, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

[RELATED: Patriots’ Ted Karras Suffers Injury]

The tight end’s deadline to return to action was on Saturday, the last business day before a Week 13 game. After that date, players on the reserve list are no longer able to apply for reinstatement for the current season.

Of course, the door remains open for Gronkowski to play after the 2019 season. After the Super Bowl, Gronkowski can file the paperwork needed to come out of retirement, if he chooses.

Gronkowski retired in the offseason, but the will he/won’t he questions have persisted throughout the year. The longtime Patriots star has expressed doubts about suiting up again, only to crack the door open soon after.

I wouldn’t say ‘never coming back,’” Gronkowski said in November. “I’m 30 years old. I’m young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can, still enjoy it. I’m feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man. It’s always an option in the back of my head.”

All we know for now is this: Gronkowski will not join Tom Brady & Co. in 2019, but he could get back with the band next year, if he wants. For now, the Patriots are doing alright without him. Even after Sunday’s loss to the Texans, the Pats are 10-2 and in the mix for yet another Super Bowl run.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Gronk, Jets, O-Line, Enunwa

Although Rob Gronkowski issued another reminder he will not come back this season, the former Patriots tight end has not closed the door on a 2020 comeback or beyond.

I wouldn’t say ‘never coming back,'” Gronkowski said Tuesday, via ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. “I’m 30 years old. I’m young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can, still enjoy it. I’m feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man. It’s always an option in the back of my head.”

Robert Kraft was hopeful Gronkowski would return this season. He would need to do so by November 30, due to league rules. The Patriots, who have struggled to generate consistent offense against the better teams on their schedule, have certainly missed perhaps their future Hall of Famer this season. Gronk jokingly acknowledged this, but it looks like the will-he/won’t-he rumors will continue into next year.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • It is possible every Jets offensive line starter from Week 1 will not be part of the 2020 team. The Jets cut Kelechi Osemele, and the rest of that September group — Kelvin Beachum, Ryan Kalil, Brian Winters and Brandon Shell — are either free agents (Beachum, Kalil, Shell) or players without any guaranteed money left (Winters). It would not be a surprise if all were elsewhere next year, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Third-round pick Chuma Edoga can be expected to start next season, and trade-acquisition guard Alex Lewis has intrigued the team. But beyond that, GM Joe Douglas will be looking to overhaul the unit. The Jets’ $61MM in projected cap space is less than they’ve possessed in recent years, however.
  • Quincy Enunwa‘s fines for missing rehab sessions involved some shaky communication, per Cimini, who adds that the wide receiver was told to talk to three different staffers — wideouts coach Shawn Jefferson, HC Adam Gase and then Douglas — before receiving clarity on this matter. While Enunwa’s second neck injury in three years puts his career in jeopardy, this process and the one that led to Osemele’s exit may factor into how free agents view the Jets.
  • Isaiah Wynn can come off IR this week, and Bill Belichick confirmed (via NESN.com’s Zack Cox, on Twitter) the Patriots do plan on activating him when he’s ready. The 2018 first-round pick has played in only two games, missing all of last season with an Achilles tear and the past eight weeks because of turf toe.
  • Kamu Grugier-Hill has become an Eagles linebacker starter, but the former sixth-round pick was once in the Patriots’ plans. The Pats drafted Grugier-Hill in the 2016 sixth round but cut him before that season. They wanted to pass the Eastern Illinois alum through to their practice squad, viewing him as a developmental piece (per Reiss), but the Eagles claimed him.
  • The Dolphins recently agreed to an extension with Allen Hurns, making every member of their current receiver nucleus signed through at least 2020.

AFC East Notes: Gronkowski, Darnold, Folk, Dolphins

It’s no secret that the Patriots have been searching for a weapon to replace the production they received from now retired tight end Rob Gronkowski. Wide receivers Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown both looked like solutions at various points earlier in the season, but neither remain on New England’s roster. However, it appears the team’s owner Robert Kraft still hopes to get Gronkowski back on the field.

When Gronkowski was cleaning out his locker after announcing his retirement in March, Kraft told him the team would remain hopeful that he would return late in the season for another playoff run, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. While it has been known that the organization hoped Gronkowski would change his mind, no one had reported Kraft’s involvement.

Rapoport notes in his story that, according to sources, Gronkowski remains content with his decision, but if he wants to return this season he has to decide soon. The deadline for retired players to return during the season and play is November 30. New England will obviously plan ahead without him, but they surely will be hoping for a change of heart.

Here more from around the AFC East:

  • Kicker Nick Folk has meshed into the Patriots locker room well, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Folk already knew the man he replaced, Stephen Gostkowski, and offensive lineman Joe Thuney and Ted Karras. All four had been enrolled in some of the same classes as they worked toward master’s degrees in past offseasons. Folk was signed after Gostkowski suffered a torn labrum in his left hip. Reiss also notes that Folk suffered the same injury in 2009 and could offer Gostkowski valuable insight during his recovery.
  • Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is “taking charge” in the locker room, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. After Darnold’s poor performances against both the Jaguars and Patriots, he has become more assertive in meetings with the coaching staff. Cimini reports that Darnold had previously been very deferential to head coach Adam Gase, but now offers feedback and his own opinion more readily.
  • NFL draft experts and scouts were watching this weeks game between LSU and Alabama closely. The Dolphins sent an especially large contingent, which included two scouts and general manager Chris Grier, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. Miami has long been tied to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa through the #Tank4Tua trend. However, even if Miami does have the top pick in the draft, some experts are beginning to place LSU’s quarterback Joe Burrow above Tagovailoa. It appears Miami’s top brass got an up-close look at both players on Saturday.

Patriots Notes: Trades, Brady, Gronk

The Patriots made a couple of notable trades over the past week, acquiring wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and jettisoning defensive end Michael Bennett. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that the team is not done dealing, and his sources say New England is continuing its efforts to strengthen its offense.

Even with Sanu in the fold, La Canfora says the Pats are still expected to pursue receiver help, and although all indications are that the Bengals won’t trade A.J. Green prior to Tuesday’s deadline, rival GMs expect Bill Belichick to take a run at him just the same. As reported previously, the club is also interested in bolstering its tight end group, and Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert and Tampa’s O.J. Howard appeal to the Patriots. Additionally, New England remains in the market for O-line upgrades, with Washington’s Trent Williams, Cincinnati’s Cordy Glenn, and old friend and current Giant Nate Solder also potential targets.

Now for more out of Foxborough:

  • Despite La Canfora’s report that the Patriots will continue to be aggressive in the trade market, Michael Lombardi of The Athletic says the Pats are not involved in any deals right now, as they are quite limited in cap room (Twitter link). The Bennett trade helped to facilitate the Sanu acquisition, but if New England is going to make another splash, it may need to cut or restructure another player.
  • For the first time in 20 years, Tom Brady‘s future is uncertain, and one of the league’s most respected reporters, Adam Schefter, recently said that Brady staying with the Pats beyond 2019 is less likely than his retiring or suiting up for another club. Another of the NFL’s most prominent scribes, Ian Rapoport, doesn’t go as far as Schefter, but he does say that Brady’s tone with respect to his future has changed dramatically, and RapSheet confirms that TB12’s 2020 plans are very much up in the air (video link). On the other hand, Schefter points out that Brady’s strong relationships with Belichick and owner Robert Kraft — which were reportedly strained not that long ago — could convince the future Hall-of-Famer to stay in New England.
  • If Brady does play elsewhere in 2020, La Canfora says the Chargers would hold significant appeal to him given his connections to SoCal and his increasing interest in Hollywood.
  • Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski recently stated in no uncertain terms that he would remain retired, but as Stefan Geller of the Boston Herald writes, that could still change. Gronk is calling on the league to allow players to use CBD products to aid in their recoveries, and if that happens, he suggested he could come back. “I also want to have the option to get back into the game, and if I’m banned next year, I can’t,” Gronkowski said. Gronkowski, obviously, is using CBD products and recently partnered with CBD Medic.
  • Tom Pelissero of NFL.com names Patriots special teams/WRs coach Joe Judge and ILB coach Jerod Mayo as two assistants who could garner head coaching interest during next year’s coaching carousel. While it would be a stretch to see the 33-year-old Mayo as an HC in 2020, especially since he just became an NFL coach seven month ago, it would not be surprising to see him get an interview.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Williams, Patriots, Gronkowski

When asked whether defensive lineman Leonard Williams could be traded, Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t exactly say no.

I really don’t deal in the hypothetical aspects,” Gase said (Twitter link via SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano). “These guys get calls all year round about trades. Really to me that’s not something I’m going to be dealing with unless something’s on the table. I don’t know what other teams are thinking, but right now I like the way our guys are rolling. Anything’s possible, but I like the way our team is.”

Other teams, predictably, are interested in the former No. 6 overall pick. Meanwhile, it has been speculated that GM Joe Douglas could be willing to part with Williams for third- and fifth-round selections. If that’s the asking price, Williams might not be long for the New York/New Jersey area.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • During an appearance on WEEI, a caller asked former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski point blank if he would return to the NFL. “I’ll give an answer,” Gronkowski replied. “When I retired, I retired for a reason: because I needed to step away. So it would be a no. There it isI never say no, because I’ve said no, and everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, he’s kidding. He’s coming back.’ But it’s a no. In my mind, that’s how it is. It’s a no.” Sounds pretty definitive, but Pats owner Robert Kraft is far from convinced.
  • Ben Watson is back with the Patriots, in part because tight end Matt LaCosse is dealing with an MCL sprain (Twitter link via Mike Giardi of NFL.com). LaCosse played through the Giants game last Thursday night, but his availability for this week against the Jets is in doubt.
  • Speaking of Watson – his new, prorated one-year deal with the Patriots is worth $800K fully guaranteed, plus $140K in incentives (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). That’s a solid payday, considering that he already made $686K off of his original 2019 pact with the Pats.
  • Defensive tackle Steve McLendon’s one-year extension with the Jets is worth $3MM, with $1.65MM in new guarantees, per Pelissero.

Extra Points: Gronk, Patriots, WRs, Draft

Rob Gronkowski debuted as a FOX analyst Thursday night, but his former job continues to come up. Robert Kraft has yet to give up hope on the future Hall of Fame tight end returning to the Patriots.

We all love Gronk, and I think the bottom line is he hasn’t put his retirement papers in,” Kraft said during an NFL Network appearance (Twitter link). “We can always pray and hope …. That’s a good academic argument that there is hope for us still with Gronk.”

The 30-year-old New England icon has continually denied he wants to come out of retirement but refuses to completely slam the door on a possible 10th season. Gronkowski said during his intro FOX broadcast he will “always keep the door open” for a Pats return. He said in August he was healthy enough to play. The team lost Josh Gordon in the first half of tonight’s game, and although it does not seem like the injury is serious — Gordon is questionable to return — the Pats’ offense is not as well-rounded as it was when Gronk created constant mismatches.

Here is the latest from around the league and the 2020 draft:

  • The Patriots’ high-profile attempt at bringing in a Gronk-level talent ended with Antonio Brown‘s release after 11 days. Brown remains accused of sexual misconduct by two women. The first, Britney Taylor, refiled her civil suit against the unemployed wide receiver in Florida state court, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). Taylor’s attorneys categorize this as a strategic move and indicated new counsel has joined the case. A league investigation is ongoing as well. No team has been closely connected to the 31-year-old superstar since the Patriots cut him last month.
  • As for elite wideouts still in the league, evaluators shared some interesting views in a piece by The Athletic similar to its quarterback-tiers arrangement. Odell Beckham Jr. and Tyreek Hill join Julio Jones on the top tier here, with NFL personnel viewing DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas as high-second-tier talents (subscription required). Hopkins’ penchant for contested catches prompted one OC to indicate the fear factor surrounding the Texans wideout is not the same as it is when game-planning for Jones or Beckham.
  • Alabama linebacker Dylan Moses is set to miss all of his junior season because of a knee injury, but the might-have-been first-round talent still has NFL supporters should he declare for the 2020 draft. A group of NFL evaluators view Moses as being a second- or third-round prospect in 2020, Mike Rodak of al.com notes. Moses would be one of many Crimson Tide draftees in the 2020 draft, should he declare, with ESPN.com’s Todd McShay ranking six Alabama standouts in his top 30.

Rob Gronkowski Joins FOX

Rob Gronkowski is returning to football, but not in the way that you might have hoped. Gronk will join FOX’s broadcast team for Sunday NFL broadcasts, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link) hear. 

Gronk retired this offseason, leaving a void in the Patriots’ offense. Granted, the Pats are still 5-0 without him, and even discarded Ben Watson before he could return from his suspension, but any offense would be bolstered by the presence of the future Hall of Famer.

Since retiring, Gronkowski has been open about his own openness to return to the game, eventually.

My body feels good. I can even take it further physically, and I could play right now,” Gronkowski said in August.

Then again:

Mentally, the desire to play just isn’t there. I would have to literally just feel that desire – just feel that mentally, that desire to play, to be back out there,” Gronk said. “Like someone is calling my name, I would have to feel that inside. I would have to feel that on a consistent basis. That’s the way I would entertain coming back to football.”

For the time being, the broadcast booth is as close as Gronk will get to the gridiron.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.