The Patriots already have an elite receiving corps, but will it be improved with the addition of Rob Gronkowski at some point?
Ever since the 30-year-old tight end called it quits earlier this year, there’s been speculation about him returning to the field. Part of that speculation has been from analysts making assumptions, but some of it has come from the man himself. But it’s hard to tell if Gronk is serious, or if he’s just trolling everybody for his own amusement.
Either way, there’s been plenty of discussion about it and enough hints to make people stop and think whether this will actually happen. So we’ll take a quick look at some of the hints that have been dropped since Gronkowski retired back in March.
DIAMOND: Why Rob Gronkowski return smoke will become fire
“I could play right now.”
Although Gronkowski went through many injuries in his career, he said in August he’s healthy enough, physically, to continue playing. But similarly to Andrew Luck, Gronkowski said the mental toll all the rehab did on him made him want to step away.
40 percent chance
A report from ProFootballTalk in July cited an unidentified source claiming there’s a 40 percent chance Gronkowksi returns this season. The report also claimed “if Tom Brady makes a direct appeal to Gronk, that could be the difference maker.”
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It’s hard to take the report too seriously since we have no idea who said “40 percent.” And this was also a long time ago, before the team acquired Brown. There have been plenty of changes from July to September that could change that percentage point a lot.
Tom Brady and Gronk worked out
There was speculation in July about a return because Brady and Gronk had a workout session. Gronkowski would later confirm the workout.
“It was great working out,” Gronkowski told TMZ Sports. “Tom needs someone to throw to so he calls Mr. Reliable, Robert G, the one and only.”
Around that same time, Gronkowski also appeared on The Rich Eisen Show and said he was enjoying retirment but, “can’t really say how I’m going to feel about it when the games start rolling around and everything.”
Week 14? 👀
The latest speculation regarding Gronk’s return came from a recent appearance on Barstool Sports. He was asked by the website’s founder, Dave Portnoy, what week he’ll be coming back to play, and Gronkowski said, “Week 14.” The video played it off as a joke since Gronk laughed afterwards, but given everything else, it only added to the talk.
There was some added fuel to the speculation fire by former Patriots player Willie McGinest, who posted a video of him throwing the ball to Gronkowski with the caption, “Major comebacks happening in Foxboro stay tuned news will drop tomorrow night !!!!!”
A day later, Gronk teased everyone by posting the eyes emoji on Twitter.
So what now?
We can already throw out the eyes emoji as a hint because it was a planned ruse by Barstool Sports. On the “Pardon My Take” podcast, they asked him to just tweet out the eyes emoji when the episode was available to get people talking.
But even without the eyes emoji tweet, there’s plenty of other speculation to make you wonder if a return could be possible. Given everything we know, I’d guess he’s going to stay retired, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he decides to come back. I think Gronkowski is just having fun entertaining the speculation. He’s the kind of guy to laugh at 69 jokes, so he’d certainly find teasing everyone with this funny as well.
There’s a chance the Patriots are doing extremely well at the end of the year, and Gronk wants to hop on for the ride. But there’s also the element of his weight loss.
“I’m actually down to 250 right now,” Gronkowski said in July. “Yeah, that picture, I know, everybody’s sending to me. They’re like, ‘Yo, you look like you’re like 200 lbs.’ I don’t know, it must’ve been the angle or the shirt that was on me ’cause I ain’t that skinny that the picture that’s going around (shows). But I have definitely lost some weight. I’ve been 260 since I was 18 years old, from 260 to like 270, so I just always wanted to see what it feels like just to get down, just to feel light, feel loose, and just feel clear.”
But until the season comes and goes with no Gronk, you will probably hear speculation about his return. And you can also expect Gronk to play along with that speculation.
“I have to be really feeling it”
Gronkowski’s latest comments about retirement come on September 12 in an interview with CBS News. Gronkowski jokes about playing a different position, but says he can always add the weight back on. But he said if he does come back to play, he’d have to “be really feeling it.” He says at this point in time, he’s enjoying life.