"I don’t make any of the personnel decisions — everything’s done in the head office at all times — but if it was up to me, if he came back, he’d be welcomed back with open arms and a big hug," Gronkowski told SI.com during a promotional interview for BodyArmor.
"He’d be welcomed any time from me. He’s an unbelievable player, and I learned so much through him on how to run routes, how to go out there, go out on the field and get things done when he was here.”
Gronkowski's comments followed an interview Welker gave with Boston radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub earlier on Tuesday in which the 34-year-old free agent said he was open to returning to the New England Patriots.
Welker spent six seasons with New England, catching 672 passes for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns. He made five Pro Bowls and was an AP first-team All-Pro selection twice.
Welker's two-year contract with the Denver Broncos expired at the end of the 2014 season. The contract was not renewed. Welker has dealt with concussion-related issues in each of the past two seasons, but has remained emphatic that he wants to continue his NFL career.
Gronkowski caught 82 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014.
- Jake Fischer & Will Green