Rob Gronkowski Rumors: Bucs 'Optimistic' TE Will Sign New Contract Before Camp

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 5, 2022

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) runs onto the field during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Los Angeles Rams Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

Rob Gronkowski's future remains up in the air, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly like their chances.

According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs are "optimistic [Gronkowski] will re-sign with the team sometime before it reports to training camp in late July."

One indication the Bucs believe Gronk will return for another year is that the team didn't replace O.J. Howard with a veteran at the position when he signed with the Buffalo Bills, instead drafting two young players, Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, behind veteran Cameron Brate.

Another is that they've kept about $12.4 million in cap space, which given Gronkowski's salaries with the team over the past two seasons—$9.2 million in 2020 and $8 million in 2021—would be plenty to bring him back yet again.

The 33-year-old, who retired for a season in 2019 before returning to the NFL to join longtime teammate Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, has played well for the Bucs.

In the 2020 title-winning season, he caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns across 16 games, adding eight catches for 110 yards and two scores in four playoff contests.

He was even better last year, albeit in 12 games, catching 55 passes for 802 yards and six scores. He added nine catches for 116 yards and a touchdown in two postseason games.

With or without Gronkowski, the Bucs have a ton of weapons for Brady, namely in the passing game with Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Russell Gage. Running back Leonard Fournette has also been revitalized in Tampa.

But getting back the five-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro selection and four-time champion would be a nice boost. Brady and Gronk have a clear rapport on the field, giving the veteran quarterback a security blanket over the middle.

NFL defenses, on the other hand, would probably be just fine with Gronkowski sitting this one out.