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NFL Rumors: Rob Gronkowski Leaving Door Open to Return in 2023 with Tom Brady

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 25, 2022

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 21: Rob Gronkowski enters the arena during the celebrity game prior to the BIG3 Championship at State Farm Arena on August 21, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for BIG3)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for BIG3

Rob Gronkowski's second retirement may be another one-and-done.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Gronkowski will consider playing in 2023 after considering a comeback with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLGameDay?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLGameDay</a> Morning: With the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Eagles?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Eagles</a> still having a lot to play for, QB Jalen Hurts (SC joint sprain) is going to push to face the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Saints?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Saints</a>. Meanwhile, Gronk is still retired… for this season. He won't be playing for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Bucs?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Bucs</a> tonight, but the door remains open for 2023. <a href="https://t.co/rqV0TFqVJG">pic.twitter.com/rqV0TFqVJG</a>

Gronkowski announced his second retirement in June after waffling back and forth on whether to play this season.

Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said the Bucs have been in contact with Gronkowski periodically throughout the 2022 season but the future Hall of Famer decided to stay retired.

"It was more of a conversation than anything else," Bowles said, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "Usually, when you have to think about playing, you probably don't want to play. When it's just a discussion, I didn't think much of it at the time."

Gronkowski is a free agent, so technically he could sign with any team at a moment's notice. However, it's highly unlikely Gronk will play anywhere without Tom Brady—an assumption that could be an interesting wrinkle this offseason.

Brady will be an unrestricted free agent in March. We know he at least considered leaving the Buccaneers last offseason for the Miami Dolphins after the NFL docked the franchise two draft picks for tampering with Brady and former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton. There were reports indicating Brady's short retirement last offseason was part of a larger scheme to join the Dolphins.

It's unlikely Miami will be Brady's next destination, given the strong play of Tua Tagovailoa this season. That said, Brady has given no indication he plans on retiring after this season. Logic would dictate Brady will at least weigh his options, and Gronkowski's desire to return for another season could play a factor.

Where the two wind up is another question entirely.