TAMPA- In what has been a back and forth affair of whether Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tight end Rob Gronkowski will retire or not prior to the 2022 season has finally been answered by the man himself.
Gronkowski announced via Instagram that he would once again be retiring, ending a 2-season stay with Tampa Bay. The 33-year-old is a 4-time Super Bowl champion, three with the New England Patriots and one with Tampa Bay, and could go down as the greatest tight end of all time.
“I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I have it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field,” Gronkowski wrote in a statement via Twitter. “The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well.”
The 2021 season for Gronkowski had its ups and downs as the pass-catcher dealt with injuries and played in 12 of the team’s 17 possible games. Despite missing five games, Gronkowski ended the season with 55 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns. Now the team must look to replace the production voided by Gronkowski and that will not be easy.
OJ Howard ended up leaving the team via free agency, leaving Cameron Brate as the longest-tenured tight end on the roster. Brate caught 30 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. Tampa Bay used the NFL Draft to address the tight end position in case of Gronkowski possibly retiring. The Buccaneers selected Ko Kieft and Cade Otton in the draft. The Buccaneers also signed Ben Beise and JJ Howland after the draft.
The off-season has been a roller coaster for the Buccaneers, as quarterback Tom Brady initially retired back on February 1st before ending his retirement nearly two months later and returning to the team. Pro Bowl wide receiver Chris Godwin is currently recovering from a torn ACL and is aiming to be back in time for the start of the 2022 campaign.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.