Contrary to fans’ expectations, tight end Rob Gronkowski has remained retired as he decided against returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season to make another Super Bowl run with his long-time quarterback and close friend Tom Brady. It was reported that in November, Gronkowski contacted the Buccaneers about a possible return to the squad, but he later decided to stay out of the NFL for now, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Without Gronkowski, the Buccaneers made it to the playoffs as the NFC South champions and will play the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round on Monday.

Despite not playing with the 45-year-old Brady this season, Gronkowski said, “I love to see him be successful.” “As a friend and a teammate of Tom’s through my whole career of 11 years, you always send your support and love to him,” Gronkowski told Page Six.

Gronkowski then lauded Brady’s accomplishments, calling his resume and discipline second to none, and praised him for being a good teammate. “You want to see nothing but success for him,” added Gronkowski, who won four Super Bowls with Brady – three with the New England Patriots and one with the Buccaneers. After a brief retirement, Gronkowski joined Brady in Tampa Bay in 2020 and led the team to its second Super Bowl title with a 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

Gronkowski not closing doors to NFL return

Despite not playing this season, Gronkowski said he’s willing to return to the NFL on one condition. When asked by TMZ to confirm reports that he almost came out of retirement and rejoined the Buccaneers, Gronkowski said that he gave it some thought but did not pursue it because he never really had “the itch” to play.

“I never got the itch. I’m not going back to football if I’m thinking about it and don’t have that itch,” said Gronkowski. However, Gronkowski never ruled out playing again next season, but it would take a boatload of money to go back to action. Gronkowski said if a team wants to throw the entire or half of its salary cap to him, he has to think about returning to the NFL.

“There’s always a possibility, baby,” the tight end said. If Brady plays next season, either with the Buccaneers or another team, there’s a possibility that Gronkowski could join him. Gronkowski predicted that Brady could return to the Buccaneers next season because he can still play at a high level.

But other teams could challenge the Buccaneers for Brady’s services, like the Las Vegas Raiders, who are expected to parade a new quarterback next season. The possibility of Brady returning to his former team, the New England Patriots, remains. Brady led the Patriots to six Super Bowl titles during his two-decade stint with the team.