After weeks of speculation, Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from football via an Instagram post.
It’s hard to deny the impact Gronk had on the Patriots’ offense ever since he entered the league in 2010, as the 6-foot-6 tight end was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, requiring double-teams that provided opportunities for other New England playmakers to get open. Most importantly, Gronk was a hybrid of the traditional run-blocking tight end and a large receiver, which made him an even bigger headache for defenses, as his presence on the field produced ample running room for the Patriots’ running backs. Unlike contemporaries such as Travis Kelce or Jimmy Graham, Gronk was never afraid of being physical as both a blocker and a receiver, which truly separated him from other modern tight ends.
Off the field, Gronk earned himself a reputation of a fun-loving frat boy, due to his frequent partying and his boisterous demeanor, but as members of the Patriots organization will tell you, he was always laser focused when it came to football, with a stringent emphasis on maintaining a proper diet and fitness regimen. At the same time, he never took football too seriously, as evidenced by his touchdown celebrations, which were always finished off with a thunderous Gronk Spike.
Gronk’s career was limited by a number of injuries, such as a broken forearm (which made him start to wear the brace on his arm), torn ACL, and a herniated disk in his back. Gronk missed most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to injuries, but returned with a bang in 2014, as he helped the Pats win Super Bowl XLIX. Gronk missed the latter half of the 2016 season due to a back injury, and was forced to sit out during the Pats’ historic comeback in Super Bowl LI. Gronk came back in 2017, and was his normal self during a season that featured an appearance in Super Bowl LII. Following the loss to the Eagles, Gronk contemplated retirement, but ultimately returned to the team. However, he was never the same during the 2018 season, and missed a number of games due to ankle and back injuries. Although he faltered as a playmaker, Gronk’s skills as a blocker never diminished, as he helped the Pats transition into a dominant rushing offense. He was at his best during the playoffs, as he began to show flashes of his old self during the AFC Championship Game, with a number of clutch catches that helped the Pats put away the Chiefs. In Super Bowl LIII, Gronk suffered a quad injury, but came through when the team needed him. He had two catches for 47 yards on the Pats’ lone touchdown drive, including an incredible seam route that put the Pats in position to break through and ultimately win the game.
The future Hall of Famer finishes his 9-year career with these incredible statistics and accomplishments:
- 521 receptions for 7,860 yards and 79 touchdowns
- 3-time Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI, LIII)
- 5-time Pro Bowler
- 4-time First-team All-Pro (2011, 2014, 2015, 2017)
- NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2014)
It will be interesting to see how the Patriots move forward, as replacing Rob Gronkowski will not be easy. I believe that the Pats will take a few tight ends during April’s draft, whether it be in the first round, or later on in the draft. Draft analysts have linked the Pats to Iowa’s dominant duo of T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, and Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr., with all three players being dynamic playmakers. However, Hockenson stands out due to his ability to run-block efficiently. If the Patriots are interested in drafting Hockenson, they will likely need to move up in the first round, as he probably won’t make it past the first 15 picks.
Rob Gronkowski may be retiring, but we will likely still see a lot of him in the coming years, as there have been numerous reports of him transitioning into a television or movie career.
Patriots Nation will miss you Gronk!