Bucs not counting on Gronk return, sources say

  • ESPN NFL Insider
  • Joined ESPN in 2009
  • Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books

Tom Brady came out of retirement, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not expecting the same from Rob Gronkowski.

Heading into Sunday night’s regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, the Buccaneers are not counting on Gronkowski to return to play football, sources told ESPN.

The Buccaneers initially had hoped that later this season, if they were in the thick of the race for a playoff spot, Brady could help convince Gronkowski to return. But sources told ESPN that at least for the time being, until they hear differently, the Buccaneers believe that Gronkowski has moved on with his life.

In the unlikely scenario that Gronkowski would return later this season, the circumstances would have to be completely right, according to sources. The five-time Pro Bowl tight end would want an opportunity with a Super Bowl contender that needed him and made a return to the NFL worth his while.

Gronkowski, 33, publicly announced his retirement this past June, ending an 11-year NFL career highlighted by four Super Bowl championships — all won with Brady.

The Bucs and Brady now will be relying on veterans Cameron Brate and Kyle Rudolph, along with rookies Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, at the tight end position.

Although they will be without the 6-foot-6 Gronkowski, the Buccaneers believe they have added a receiver that can help compensate for his absence. Those who have watched the Buccaneers this summer were beyond impressed with how 6-foot-3 wide receiver Julio Jones looked and how he bonded with Brady.

Source: Read Full Article