Bye Gronk

By on April 2, 2019

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has decided to call it a career after nine seasons in the NFL. It’s not a surprised to me that Gronkowski retired. 

He announced his retirement over Instagram on Sunday, March 24.

“It all started at 20 years old on a stage at the NFL draft when my dream come true, and now I’m here.” Gronk wrote on Instagram. “I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football.”

Injuries likely forced Gronkowski to retire earlier than he likely wanted to. He was injured in seven of his nine NFL season, suffering from multiple forearm fractures, a torn ACL and a back vertebral disc hernia throughout his playing career.

I thought this would Gronkowski’s last year playing football because of how he responded to a question on what the 2018 was like for him. 

“You take a hit to the thigh,” Gronkowski said, according to NFL Network reporter Mike Girardi’s Twitter. “You take hits to the head. Abusing your body isn’t what your brain wants. When your body abused, it can bring down your mood. You got to be able to deal with that.”

Gronkowski will go down as one of the best tight ends to ever play in the NFL. The 29-year-old finished his career with 521 receptions, 7,861 receiving yards and 79 touchdowns, according to NFL.com.

Gronkowski was there for the Patriots when it mattered the most. On a third and 10 vs the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game in overtime, he caught a 15-yard pass against safety Eric Berry, setting up running back Rex Burkhead’s game winning two-yard running touchdown run three plays later.

He made the biggest play in this year’s Super Bowl, catching a 29-yard pass at the two-yard line with less than eight minutes left in the game. Running back Sony Michel would run for a two-yard touchdown on the next play, the only touchdown of the Super Bowl.

In Super Bowl 52 loss to vs the Philadelphia Eagles, Gronkowski had nine receptions for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He was also clutch in the Super Bowl victory vs the Seattle Seahawks, where he had six receptions for 68 yards and one touchdown.

The dynamic tight end finished his postseason career with 81 receptions for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 playoff games, according to NFL.com. He ranks number one for all three categories for tight ends in the postseason.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick released a statement praising Gronkowski after the tight end announced he was going to retire.

“Rob’s impact on our team and organization was felt in many ways,” Belichick said. “In the ultimate team sport, Rob was a great teammate. His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and toward whoever will never be forgotten.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft also released a statement reacting to Gronkowski’s retirement.

“As a player, he earned the respect of his coaches and teammates for his hard work, preparation, selfless attitude and the sheer of the dominance in the game,” Kraft said. “Gronk quickly became a fan favorite and the most dominant player at his position for nearly a decade. I look forward to honoring him in the real future as both a Patriots and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. While Patriots fans are certainly going to miss seeing him play, he will be a Patriot for life and celebrated as a three-time Super Bowl Champion.”

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacted to Gronkowski retiring by posting on his Instagram a message honoring Gronkowski as a player and person.

“What an honor and privilege to play with you this past nine years,” Brady said. “You accomplished so much and our team was almost unbeatable when you were on the field! Your fun-loving, inspiring, and positive energy made an impact on everybody you came into contact with! Not just that, but for as great as a player you are a better teammate and person. The NFL was a better place with you in it! But I have no doubt that you will be successful at anything you do!!! Love you pal!”

With Gronkowski retiring, the Patriots should make addressing the  tight end position a top priority. The current tight ends on the team’s roster are Jacob Hollister Stephen Anderson, Matt Lacosse and Ryan Izzo. These players are not that productive, as they have combined for 71 receptions for 801 receiving yards and three touchdowns in their careers. The team will need to draft a tight end that is known for his receiving ability because I don’t think any of their opponents will fear any of these tight ends.

Tight ends that  the Patriots could target in the 2019 draft are Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr., Iowa’s Noah Fant or Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson. The team will likely have to trade up to select one of these tight ends, as most mock drafts have each going in the top 20. The Patriots currently have the 32nd pick, but have the option of trading up with a total of 12 draft picks in the 2019 draft.

I think the Patriots first option should be to target Fant. He caught 39 passes for 518 yards and seven touchdowns in the 2018 season. He ranks third all time in the Big Ten in touchdown receptions, with 19 overall. In his last two seasons, he was targeted in the red zone 21 times, catching 15 passes and scoring 12 times, according to Sports Info Solutions.

During his career, Gronkowksi did most of his damage in the red zone. In the 2017, he was targeted 11 times, where he scored six touchdowns. Fant would give the Patriots a go to target in the red zone to replace Gronkowski with the ability to catch jump balls since he sports a 6-foot-5 and 251 pound frame.

If Fant is off the board, then I think the Patriots second option should be Hockenson, who won the Mackey Award for the nation’s best tight end. He caught 49 passes for 750 yards and seven touchdowns this past season. The Patriots need another playmaker Brady can go to on third down, as the only one on their current roster is wide receiver Julian Edelman. Hockenson would provide them with that because he had 15 catches on third-down, the most by any tight end in College Football last season.

As for Gronkowski, he will now look to start the next chapter of his life with his football career being over. New York Times writers Benjamin Hoffman and Ken Belson stated in  an article what Gronkowski’s plan might be post-football.

“According to a report on NFL Network, Gronkowski agreed to a deal with a film or television company before the Super Bowl,” Hoffman and Belson said.

I think Gronkowski will end up joining the World Wrestling Entertainment because of the comments WWE Vice President of Talent Paul Michael Levesque, better known as Triple H made speaking to SI.com’s Justin Barrasso on Feb. 1.

“Gronk has mentioned WWE before, that he, loves it and said he had much fun doing it,” Levesque said. “ I don’t know if it’s something he’d be seriously interested in, but that’s how the conversation started with Ronda Rousey, too. Certainly, the door is open for him at the WWE.”

Levesque also talked about how Gronkowski has a close friendship with one of WWE’s biggest starts, Mojo Rawley.

“Rob is very close with one of our stars, Mojo Rawley,” Levesque said. “We’ve met a few times, and he’s actually come down to the Performance Center and even done stuff with us at WrestleMania. He’s a great guy, an incredible player, and it’s hard to not root for him I’ll be watching him, but that’s also because my wife is a huge Patriots fan.”

If Gronkowski decides to not join the WWE, he will have plenty of other options because of how popular and entertaining he is. Enjoy retirement Gronk, you deserve it.

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