New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Julian Edelman reacted to the retirement of their teammate, tight end Rob Gronkowski, who announced on Instagram that he will be hanging up his cleats after nine years in the NFL.

Brady reacted to the Instagram post of Gronkowski, saying “Love u man,” accompanying it with an image of a goat, meaning the greatest of all time (GOAT). Brady added that there “couldn’t be a better person or teammate” than Gronkowski.

Edelman, for his part, paid tribute to the 29-year-old Gronkowski on Instagram, posting a photo of him with the tight end with the caption “the other goat.” Gronkowski played nine seasons alongside Edelman, winning three Super Bowl rings in five trips to the big dance along the way. The veteran tight end was impressive in their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, catching six passes for 87 yards.

Gronkowski one of the best tight ends

Gronkowski left the game, despite playing just nine years in the NFL, due to a slew of injuries that he suffered in the past years. He underwent several back surgeries, broke his arm twice, and suffered a torn ACL during his nine-year NFL stint, which he spent with the Patriots.

The Patriots selected Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Arizona.

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In his rookie year, Gronkowski caught the attention of the NFL after he caught 42 catches for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. The following year, Gronkowski caught 90 passes for 1,327 yards and then the league-best 17 scores. In his career, Gronkowski played 115 games, recording 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. Aside from his catching prowess, Gronkowski also emerged as one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL with his 6-foot-6 and 268-pound frame.

Gronkowski’s retirement leaves Patriots big hole

According to Doug Kyed of NESN.com, Gronkowski’s retirement gave the Patriots an additional $9 million in salary cap space, bringing their salary cap room to around $17.5 million. However, Kyed said the Patriots are in a bind with the best tight ends in the free agent pool already signed. Jared Cook, the best tight end in the free agent market, will reportedly sign with the New Orleans Saints, while other tight ends such as Tyler Eifert, C.J.

Uzomah, and Nick Boyle already signed with different teams.

The remaining options for the Patriots are Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Maxx Williams. Currently, the Patriots have Matt LaCosse, Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo, and Stephen Anderson as tight ends. The Patriots recently signed LaCosse from the free agent market.

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