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Rob Gronkowski is retiring from the NFL.
The 33-year-old, who came out of his 2019 retirement to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2020 and 2021 campaigns, announced Tuesday that he will retire:
Jordan Schultz first reported the news.
The tight end was an unrestricted free agent, but he is stepping away from the game after an incredible career that featured 621 receptions for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns.
He told TMZ Sports in April he was “not ready to commit to the game of football right now.”
He hinted at retirement in May as well when he responded to a social media prompt from Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette wondering how many fans will wear a No. 7 jersey by saying, “I’ll represent a 7 jersey in the stands for ya!”
.<a href=”https://twitter.com/RobGronkowski?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RobGronkowski</a> responds to <a href=”https://twitter.com/_fournette?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@_fournette</a>… “I’ll represent a 7 jersey in the stands for ya.” <a href=”https://t.co/qqtnbIGuGz”>pic.twitter.com/qqtnbIGuGz</a>
Last September, Gronkowski’s brother Chris told TMZ Sports that Rob would retire when Tom Brady did. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington and Adam Schefter reported in January the legendary quarterback was still “noncommittal to playing beyond this season” and wanted to discuss his plans with his family.
While Brady retired after the season, he announced less than two months later that he was returning to Tampa Bay.
Gronkowski was arguably the best tight end in NFL history even when he retired after the 2018 season. His resume includes four Super Bowl titles, four All-Pro selections, five Pro Bowl nods and a Comeback Player of the Year Award.
The University of Arizona product led the league with 17 touchdown catches in 2011 and went over 1,000 receiving yards four times while reaching double-digit touchdown catches five times during nine seasons with the Patriots.
He was unstoppable in the red zone with his size and physicality, but he was also athletic enough to shed tackles in the open field, exploit openings in zones and beat linebackers in space.
That continued when he teamed up again with Brady in Tampa Bay.
Gronkowski caught two touchdowns in the Super Bowl LV win over the Kansas City Chiefs to cap off the 2020 campaign. He remained effective in 2021 with 55 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns even though he shared touches with Fournette, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown on offense.
While the Buccaneers didn’t repeat as Super Bowl champions, they won the NFC South thanks in part to one of the NFL’s best tight ends.
The next stop for Gronkowski is the Pro Football Hall of Fame.