Following Tom Brady's retirement, everyone initially assumed tight end Rob Gronkowski would follow in his footsteps, possibly teaming up once again in the Hall of Fame in 2027 together.
Licht said the team will give Gronkowski time to think about his future:
"I'm giving Rob the respect to give him some time to see how he feels here in the next coming of weeks after a long, grueling season. When you played in the league for 11 years, you need a little time to think things through to see if you want to go through with it for another year. From my conversations with Rob, he just needs that. I don't think it's going to be dependent on whether Tom came back or not from what I understand, and I know that Rob had an incredible experience here as well. He was a big factor in us having the success that we had. We would welcome Rob back with open arms, but we're giving him his space right now to decide on what he wants to do."
A week ago, Gronkowski said if he had to decide at that time, he would indeed have retired. Yet, he also left the door open, saying he'll see how his body feels in a few weeks.
Gronkowski initially retired from the NFL following the 2018 season with the New England Patriots when Tom Brady left to go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gronk even once threatened to retire when there were rumors that the Lions and Patriots were in talks to acquire his services in a blockbuster trade.
Gronk came out of retirement to join Bucs
Gronkowski announced that he would return the to league in 2020 and re-joined Brady in Tampa Bay. In 2020, Gronkowski played in all 16 games, recording 45 receptions for 623 yards and seven touchdowns. During the Bucs 2020 postseason, Gronkowski recorded 8 receptions for 110 yards while winning Super Bowl LV.
Gronkowski returned for the 2021 season in hopes of another Super Bowl run. The Bucs finished 13-4 and looked ready for another run with the squad they had the season before when they beat the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Gronkowski had a more productive season this year, recording 55 receptions for 802 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Bucs' season ended when they were defeated by the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round.
With Brady retiring, it will be interesting to see if his buddy Gronk follows him and calls it a career as well.