Throughout the 2017 season, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick appeared to be fighting the incoming tide. That tide was trainer Alex Guerrero, Tom's Brady's personal trainer and the man behind the "TB12 Method." As Tom Brady continued to play at an MVP level into his 40's, more Patriots players were starting to buy in to the methods that Guerrero was selling. One of those players, oft injured Rob Gronkowski, had much to gain from learning Guerrero's ways.

A player that has battled countless injuries and surgeries, who isn't even 30 yet, needed to find a way to extend his playing career before injuries caught up to him.

In 2017, Gronkowski had one of his most productive seasons, and appeared to be his healthiest in years. But it didn't come without confrontation.

Taking control of his team

As Guerrero gained popularity within the team, Belichick felt his tight control of the team slipping. Players were starting to take Guerrero's advice over that of team trainers. It was causing discord between those loyal to Alex and those loyal to Bill. When the decision came that Guerrero was no longer welcome at the team's facilities, it seemed like a direct shot at Guerrero's biggest client, Tom Brady. However, Gronkowski had been going to Guerrero more and more and was buying in completely. This upset Belichick as he went so far as to openly scold Gronkowski in front of the team for his use of Guerrero's services.

The rift caused by Guerrero appeared to cast a black cloud over the season for both Brady and Gronkowski. While Brady went to extra lengths to still see his personal trainer and the disruption to his routine was bothersome, Gronkowksi was more miffed about how he felt singled out by the coach and used as a scapegoat.

Future in New England?

The team has been active this offseason, revamping the roster. Several unexpected trades and signings have everyone on the team on their toes wondering if their time in New England is up. Gronkowski has already mulled retirement this spring, and still hasn't been fully committed to returning this season.

His biggest commitment came when he said he would be all-in as long as Brady is too. Since Brady is already planning to play several more seasons, the comments are somewhat awkward. If Brady is definitely going to be there, then Gronkowski should be too, right?

Not so fast. Bill Belichick is known for cutting bait with player's before they are over the hill, or when he deems that they are no longer all-in for the "Patriot Way." Mulling retirement and then being noncommittal to the upcoming season is one way to show the coach that your mind isn't 100% football.

The pieces keep adding up, suggesting that Gronkowski has played his final game in New England.