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Rob Gronkowski Contacted Bucs This Season About Potential Return to NFL, Bowles Says

Adam WellsDecember 23, 2022

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 23: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tight End Rob Gronkowski (87) watches a replay on the jumbotron during the NFC Divisional game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on January 23, 2022 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Amid buzz over his recent tweet about being bored, Rob Gronkowski contacted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this season about potentially making a comeback.

Head coach Todd Bowles told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times it was "more of a conversation than anything else" with Gronkowski about ending his retirement.

Stroud noted the Bucs had "several conversations" with the future Hall of Fame tight end around Thanksgiving about rejoining the team to help them for the stretch run.

"Gronkowski told the Bucs he had been working out," Stroud wrote. "He and the club discussed several options, including signing the 33-year-old to the practice squad to give him a couple weeks to get back into football shape, although they were willing to add him to the active roster. In the end, Gronkowski decided to remain retired for now."

Earlier this week, Gronkowski tweeted "I'm kinda bored" with a neutral face emoji to get fans and analysts buzzing:

Rob Gronkowski @RobGronkowski

I'm kinda bored πŸ˜β€¦

Gronkowski retired from the NFL on June 21 in a statement posted on Instagram. It was the second time he retired as a player. The 33-year-old previously walked away following the 2018 season after helping the New England Patriots defeat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53.

Very few people chose to believe Gronkowski was serious about this retirement. His longtime girlfriend, Camille Kostek, told Andrew Holleran of Sports Illustrated she thought he would come back.

"I am an honest lady, and honestly, in my heart, I didn't feel like this one is a forever one. So, I think maybe he'll come back again," Kostek said. "I feel like him and Tom are just having fun like, 'Retired, not retired, retired, not retired.'"

When Tom Brady left the Patriots to sign with the Bucs as a free agent in March 2020, Gronkowski decided to join him. New England traded his rights to the Buccaneers for two draft picks.

Gronkowski was excellent in his two seasons with Tampa. He racked up 1,425 yards and 13 touchdowns in 28 regular-season games.

The Bucs have the inside track to win the NFC South this season, but they have been unable to find any semblance of consistency on offense. They currently rank 28th in scoring offense with 17.6 points per game and have lost three of their last four games.

At 6-8 with three games remaining, the Buccaneers could be the first team since the 2020 Washington Commanders to make the playoffs with a losing record. The Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons are all one game behind Tampa in the division race.