Rob Gronkowski Considering Bucs Return 'a Little Bit' Because of Loyalty to Tom Brady

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 7, 2022

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 26: Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers react after a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 26, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski said he feels "a little bit" of responsibility to rejoin Tom Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the quarterback brought an end to his short-lived retirement.

Gronk, who's currently a free agent, explained Wednesday on Jimmy Kimmel Live he's currently weighing that loyalty to Brady against whether he wants to put his body through another NFL season.

"It's about playing the game. I wanna be there with the guys. That's the best part, being part of the team," he said. "Do I wanna do that week-in, week-out schedule? I mean, it's a brutal game."

Gronkowski previously spent the 2019 season in retirement before returning in 2020 after Brady moved to the Bucs following two decades as a member of the New England Patriots. They'd spent nine years together with the Pats.

The 32-year-old five-time Pro Bowler continued to play at a high level in 2021, recording 55 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns across 12 appearances. His 92 receiving scores since his rookie season in 2010 are the most in the NFL over that span.

Brady doesn't necessarily need the University of Arizona product on the roster to enjoy another successful season leading the Tampa offense. His group of pass-catchers already includes wide receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Tyler Johnson and Scotty Miller, along with tight end Cameron Brate.

Yet, after a long and successful partnership, life is always easier for the seven-time Super Bowl champion when he knows Gronkowski is working the middle of the field, especially in the red zone.

It wouldn't be a surprise if the star tight end remains a free agent for most of the offseason, allowing him to miss the organized team activities and perhaps even part of training camp without the risk of financial punishment, before re-signing with the Bucs.

All told, Brady's return combined with Gronk's continued strong play makes it likely he'll be back on the field at some point in 2022.