"As a player, he earned the respect of his coaches and teammates for his hard work, preparation, selfless attitude and the sheer dominance of his game," Kraft said. "'Gronk' quickly became a fan favorite and the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade."
"It was a pleasure and a privilege to coach Rob Gronkowski the past nine years," Belichick said. "From his rookie year until his final season and through countless times in between, Rob was a major reason why we won games and championships."
Gronkowski announced in an Instagram post he's walking away after nine years.
While sudden, his decision came as little surprise upon reflection.
Gronk's future was unclear for much of the 2018 offseason until he confirmed last April he would suit up for the Patriots. He proceeded to catch 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns and missed three games while dealing with back and ankle injuries.
Despite the fact that he'll turn just 30 in May, he put a ton of mileage on his body over his nearly decade of time in the NFL.
Gronkowski is going out having won a third Super Bowl in five seasons, and he's arguably done enough to warrant enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Few can question the timing of his retirement.