Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski both walked away from football this past offseason. Since Gronkowski was drafted in 2010, the two had never played a football season without each other. Even when Brady left New England for Tampa Bay, Gronkowski was right behind him.
This year will be the first year since they joined up that one will be without the other. Both retired, but the quarterback came back and his tight end did not.
Aside from losing a friend, the Buccaneers quarterback is losing a top target, too. Even at 33 years old, Gronkowski is one of the best pass catchers in his position.
Brady discussed the loss of his friend on the Let's Go! with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald and Jim Gray podcast:
"Yeah, it's going to be tough. He's, you know, we're just talking about top 100 players, he was named one of the top 100 players of all time. Gronk was, so you're missing someone that was one of the all time greats, which is, you know, you can't replace that."
There are rumors of Gronkowski leaving retirement, but he remains out of the NFL for now.
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The legendary quarterback went on to say that it's not just the production the Buccaneers will miss this year:
"And we all love him, but we miss him. And, you know, he just decides not to play. So he's retired. So we've had to move on to try to solve some things without them. And we've done a good job... candidates taken on a big role, Kyle Rudolph, we drafted a few young players."
He added that the tight end position would be different this year:
"So that position, although it's different without Gronk, we're going to have to go out there and earn it and earn the respect of everyone by our work and by our performance. So I'm excited to see what we can do... I'm never one to make a bunch of predictions other than, you know, we're going to work hard to get it right. And it's not going to be perfect all the time. It's got to be perfect enough to win."
Gronkowski would likely slot in towards the top of the depth chart if he returned, but that isn't likely at this point.
If you use any of the above quotes, please credit Let's Go! with Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald, and Jim Gray, and H/T Sportskeeda.