Michele Steele of ESPN noted Gronkowski was pressed about the topic on Fox NFL Sunday and said, "First off, I'm saying I love the guy," when asked what he would answer if Brady asked him to return for the playoffs. "No, I'm not going back."
Rich Eisen of NFL Network pointed out the five-time Pro Bowler would need to declare his intention to return by Saturday to be eligible for the playoff roster.
The topic of Gronkowski's potential return has been a talking point throughout the NFL season to the point he parodied the discussion on Tuesday when announcing he will host a Super Bowl party in South Florida:
Rob Gronkowski @RobGronkowski
I'm bringing the FIESTA 🎉 to Miami with GRONK BEACH BIG GAME WEEKEND presented by @MonsterEnergy! Prepare for my personal over the top oceanfront music festival featuring my friends @diplo | @kaskade| @RickRoss | @official_flo | @djcarnage | @3LAU https://t.co/FANgwjNUDQ https://t.co/wD16Su0EA5
Still, the 30-year-old didn't rule out an eventual return to the field when talking to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com:
"I wouldn't say 'never coming back.' I'm 30 years old. I'm young. I still stay fit, still watch the game whenever I can, still enjoy it. I'm feeling good, but you know, one year off could possibly be the case. Or maybe two years off, man.
"It's always an option in the back of my head. It's not like I'm not staying in shape and not doing anything. I'm never stressed over it."
That he is not coming back this season is unfortunate news for a New England offense that could use a boost.
While the defending champions are 9-1, they struggled on the offensive side of the ball during last Sunday's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles and have been carried by their defense for much of the campaign. Adding a four-time All-Pro selection and three-time champion to the offense would help open up the playbook and make the Patriots all the more dangerous come January.