Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians appeared Thursday on NFL Live and said it was Brady who put the wheels in motion to acquire the previously retired Gronkowski in a trade with the New England Patriots (h/t ESPN's Jenna Laine):
"It was really Tom. Tom brought it up to me, and I didn't even think it was a possibility that [Gronkowski] wanted to come back. And [Brady] was adamant about, yeah, he really wants to play; he'd love to play with us. So [general manager] Jason Licht got the ball rolling with the Patriots, the conversation was there, and he's working out, he's in great shape and he's raring to go. So we're really looking forward to getting on the practice field."
Gronkowski, 30, retired before the 2019 season, spending a year away from football. The time away reignited his passion for the game.
"I said it from the beginning that I wouldn't come back unless if I'm feeling it, unless if I'm feeling good, feeling healthy, and I'm feeling like I'm ready to go. And now this is the case. This is the time," he said. "My body, 100 percent, needed a rest. I didn't have that fire underneath me. But I knew I loved the game of football."
The chance to reunite with Brady was also likely a major factor. Gronkowski threatened to retire in the 2018 offseason after the Patriots had a trade on the table with the Detroit Lions because he wanted to remain with Brady in New England.
"Yeah, it happened," he confirmed at the time, per ESPN. "Brady's my quarterback, that's all. Wasn't going anywhere without Brady."
That loyalty makes sense. With Brady as his quarterback in New England, Gronk won three titles, was a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro selection and caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns.
Both players are future Hall of Famers. Reuniting in Tampa Bay and resurrecting a franchise that hasn't made a postseason appearance since 2007 would only add to the legend.