Former Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his NFL retirement for a second time late last month, but many fans were cynical, pointing out that the 33-year-old could come back in the middle of the 2022 season if Tom Brady were to come calling.
However, Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Evans believes that Gronkowski is actually done with football for good this time around.
In a recent interview with Ari Alexander of KPRC 2 Houston, Evans explained how disappointed he was to lose a player of Gronkowski’s caliber as a teammate. However, he detailed how he and the rest of the offense can help fill the void in 2022.
“It hurts to lose Gronk. He’s one of the best tight ends ever,” the 28-year-old receiver said. “But we’re gonna have to make up for that in other areas. I have to play better, the running backs have to play better and collectively we have to play better. We’re gonna miss Gronk, but I feel like we can still compete for a Super Bowl this year.”
Evans was then asked if he thought Gronkowski would be back at all next season.
“I hope he comes back. I mean, with Tom and Gronk, you never know… but I feel like he’s done,” Evans said. “He plays the tight end position and he plays it with max effort, gives it his all, practices really hard, takes a lot of shots, blocks, runs after the catch… He takes a pretty big beating, I’ve seen his body after some of them games and I understand why (he would retire).”
Gronkowski certainly made it seem like he was done for good when he announced his retirement on June 21. It was the second time that he’s retired, after first doing so in 2019, but this time around he appeared to more definitively call it a career.
“I want to thank the whole entire first class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team,” Gronkowski said in an Instagram post when announcing his retirement. “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.”
If this is indeed the end for Gronkowski, he’ll walk away from football as one of the best tight ends in NFL history. Over the course of his 11-year career in New England and Tampa Bay, he won four Super Bowls, made four All-Pro teams and racked up the third-most career receiving touchdowns (92) among tight ends, trailing only Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.
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