Despite reports that tight end Rob Gronkowski will play next season, uncertainty still continues to hound the New England Patriots. Until Gronkowski shows up for their offseason workout program on April 16, they will be bothered by reports about the possibility that their Pro Bowl tight end might not return at all. Jeff Darlington of ESPN and Ian Rapoport of NFL Media both reported that Gronkowski plans to play next season, but will not make an official announcement about his move. The only indication that the Patriots might get from Gronkowski is if he shows up at Gillette Stadium.

Gronkowski has two years remaining on his contract with the Patriots, but his future became uncertain after their Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. After their 41-33 loss, Gronkowski said he will need some time to contemplate his next move. As of now, the Patriots haven’t done anything to address their tight end depth chart. The Patriots currently have Dwayne Allen, Jacob Hollister and Will Tye as tight ends. In 15 games last season, the 28-year-old Gronkowski caught 69 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns en route to his first-team All-Pro honors.

Several teams eyeing Gronk via trade

While Gronkowski ponders his next move, several teams are planning to approach the Patriots with trade offers for the five-time All-Pro tight end, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB.

Breer said several teams told him during the owners meeting in Florida that they are planning to make a move for Gronkowski ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft. Earlier, Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal reported that the Patriots might trade Gronkowski. In his report, Bedard stressed that a player is considered gone once head coach Bill Belichick starts to contemplate life without him.

Also, the possibility that Belichick might pull the trade trigger is strong, especially now that his relationship with Gronkowski is on shaky ground. Darlington reported that Belichick and some Patriots top brass are frustrated with Gronkowski’s move to keep the team waiting for his decision. In addition, Belichick also doubts Gronkowski’s commitment to football due to the tight end’s constant partying.

Patriots have backup plan at tight end

The Patriots lost one of their possible tight end targets when Martellus Bennett announced his retirement recently. As of now, the Patriots are keeping Allen despite his $5 million cap hit for 2018, due to the uncertainty created by Gronkowski. However, the Patriots have another player who could step up in case Gronkowski retires or gets traded. Tye, who spent most of last season on the Patriots’ practice squad, and was a two-year starter with the New York Giants, could step up in Gronkowski’s place if needed. In his rookie year with the Giants, Tye caught 42 passes for 464 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie. In 2016, he caught 48 passes for 395 yards with one touchdown, but was cut from training camp in 2017. Tye briefly played with the New York Jets before he was released. He then joined the Patriots’ practice squad.