Rob Gronkowski Says He'll Only Return to NFL To Play for Buccaneers

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVApril 30, 2022

FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, and quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrate after the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Tampa, Fla., Feb. 7, 2021. Tom Brady has retired after winning seven Super Bowls and setting numerous passing records in an unprecedented 22-year-career. He made the announcement, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in a long post on Instagram. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano, File)
AP Photo/Steve Luciano, File

Tight end Rob Gronkowski confirmed if he decides to return for the 2022 NFL season it'll only be with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite his free-agent status.

The five-time Pro Bowl selection hasn't made up his mind about whether to continue his football career, but he told TMZ Sports playing alongside Tom Brady is the only option.

"It's just the Bucs," Gronk said in an interview released Saturday. "Love that organization, man. Love the guys there. It's family over there."

His stance was pretty much expected. He's played all 11 of his NFL seasons as Brady's teammate—the first nine years with the New England Patriots and the last two with the Bucs sandwiched around a one-year retirement in 2019.

It would have qualified as a major surprise if he decided to sign elsewhere. He was linked to the Buffalo Bills, his hometown team, earlier in the offseason, but that was before Brady announced his return after a brief six-week foray into retirement.

His connection with the legendary quarterback is basically second nature at this point, and he continued to play at a high level in 2021, recording 55 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games.

For now, Gronkowski is enjoying his time away from the league, hosting his "Gronk Beach" event in Las Vegas on Friday night in the same city as the NFL draft.

The 32-year-old future Hall of Famer could opt to remain a free agent for most of the offseason, allowing him to skip all of the OTAs, and then sign with the Bucs shortly before training camp.

Gronkowski doesn't need practices in May and June to score touchdowns in September.

If he decides to hang up his cleats for good, the Buccaneers' passing attack should still be in good hands for 2022. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Tyler Johnson and Cameron Brate lead Brady's group of targets currently under contract.

That said, there's still room for another tight end to share snaps with Brate, and it's a strong bet Gronk will eventually fill that void for Tampa.