As of now, it remains unclear if tight end Rob Gronkowski will suit up for the New England Patriots next season or retire [VIDEO]from the NFL. Earlier, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick refused to provide details about Gronkowski’s future during the NFL's annual team owners meeting. In an interview, Belichick insisted that he’s not going to speak for anybody else and conversations with his players are private matters. However, team owner Robert Kraft was singing a different tune when asked about the veteran tight end. Kraft said he’s confident that Gronkowski will play in the 2018 season, even mentioning that the tight end has been working out at Gillette Stadium.

Gronkowski’s future still unclear

If he returns to the Patriots, Gronkowski will earn a base salary of $8 million in 2018. Gronkowski’s future became unclear after he hinted that he could retire following their Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. However, there were reports that Gronkowski might join the WWE or become a Hollywood movie star. According to Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com, the Patriots need Gronkowski to decide soon so they can plan their next move. The Patriots could possibly sign a tight end from the free agent market or select one from the 2018 NFL Draft, possibly Hayden Hurst of South Carolina. Recently, Belichick attended the Gamecocks’ pro day to take a closer look at Hurst [VIDEO], who, at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, possesses the athleticism and build of Gronkowski.

Patriots might trade Gronkowski?

Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal floated the possibility that the Patriots might trade Gronkowski. According to his source, Bedard said once a player makes Belichick start to contemplate life without him, the Patriots' head coach starts to imagine that the particular player is already gone. Bedard insisted that the longer Gronkowski remains silent about his future with the Patriots, the chances of him being traded increase.

Bedard also mentioned that the Patriots could find an ideal trade partner in the San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots recently traded backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick. Bedard said one AFC general manager informed him that the 49ers have enough cap space to absorb Gronkowski’s contract. Also, 49ers general manager John Lynch might be willing to return the favor to the Patriots after the latter gave up Garoppolo for just a second-round pick. The Los Angeles Rams could also be interested in Gronkowski, and the Patriots could get a late first-round draft pick in return.