"I am really good friends with Gronk. We have had a great relationship for 10 years," Brady said Monday on WEEI's Greg Hill Show. "Just because things are reported doesn't necessarily mean they are always true, just for the record. … I don't know. Those are conversations I am not privy to."
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Gronkowski in March that he wants him to return for November, December and a playoff run. It appears unlikely Gronkowski will rejoin the team at this point; he would have to announce his return prior to the Patriots' Week 13 matchup with the Houston Texans to be eligible.
Gronkowski retired as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history after nine seasons amid injury issues that plagued his career. He's consistently left the door open for an NFL return, including hinting about it if the league legalizes CBD oil. The substance, which is growing in popularity nationwide as a source of pain relief, is currently banned—as are all products containing cannabis.
Brady did not seem optimistic about a potential Gronkowski comeback and said he's focused on the current players on the roster.
"It really doesn't matter. Our team is what it is," Brady said. "The trade deadline is gone. Training camp has passed. Free agency is gone. The draft is gone. I mean, our team is what it is and I am excited about who we have and the opportunity that we have. I said last week, to be 8-1 and have the opportunity in the second half of the year that we do, I think anyone would take that. It hasn't all been perfect, but it's been good enough in some areas.
"We're really going to have to really ramp it up and play our best as we go forward. Hopefully it will be a great second half of the season. It's really up to us to earn it, the people that are in the locker room have to show up to work every day with a great sense of determination, commitment to doing our best for each other, for the team, and try and go get a win. It starts this week in Philly."
The Patriots return to the field Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles for the first time since New England's Super Bowl LII loss. Brady said he's still not over that loss, though he did note it gave himself and the Patriots some lessons ahead of their Super Bowl LIII victory last season.
"You assume I'm over it. Come on now," Brady said. "That's a lot of mental scar tissue from that year. That was a tough game.
"In a lot of ways we learned from that year and we came back stronger the next year. We won the Super Bowl in '18. I think everything is a matter of perspective and when you play in that game and you play great teams, you're not going to win them all. This is not the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals. This is all about tough competition against the best teams. They deserved it that year, and now a couple years later we get a chance to play the organization again. We've had a lot changes, they've had a lot of changes. It's totally different circumstances. Huge game for us. Big game for them. The best team is going to win."
The Patriots enter Sunday's game once again Super Bowl favorites after an 8-1 start. Brady is no longer playing at a league MVP-caliber level, and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is plying his trade in Jacksonville. The Eagles enter next weekend at 5-4 and in position to take control of the NFC East after an inconsistent first half of the season.