Rob Gronkowski Says He'll Test Free Agency, Wants to Return to Buccaneers

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 15, 2021

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Rob Gronkowski reacts as he scores a touchdown during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

Rob Gronkowski wants to play the 2021 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the tight end plans to test out free agency anyway.

In an appearance on the 10 Questions with Kyle Brandt podcast, the defending Super Bowl champion said he wants to see what's out there since he never got to explore free agency as a member of the New England Patriots

"I definitely want to be back with the Buccaneers. That’s where my eyesight is. That’s where I’m leaning toward, big time," he said. "But with the free-agency process, you just never know what may happen. There’s some other teams interested out there, too. I’ve also never been a part of the free-agency process, so I actually want to dip my toes in, just to see what’s out there."

The Patriots drafted Gronkowski in the second round out of Arizona in 2010, and he signed a six-year extension when his rookie deal expired. He never finished that deal, choosing instead to retire after the 2018 season. 

But he came back to the NFL in 2020 to join his former quarterback Tom Brady as both opted to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first time either would compete for a team other than the Patriots. Together, they led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl title—the seventh for Brady and fourth for Gronkowski. 

The four-time Pro Bowler was a major key to the Bucs' Super Bowl run. Through 16 starts—his first time starting every regular-season game since 2011—he reeled in 45 passes for 623 yards and seven scores. Both of his postseason touchdowns came in the Super Bowl defeat of the Kansas City Chiefs, but he made eight receptions for 110 yards in total. 

Gronkowski said he wants to play on one-year contracts for the remainder of his career—and he left open the idea of playing for as long as his quarterback has. The 31-year-old, who turns 32 in May, said the shorter deals are what he will be looking for "even if I play 10 more years." 

If that's the case, there's the possibility for at least two more of those years to be with Brady, who has said he would consider playing after he turned 45.