Rob Gronkowski Comes Out of Retirement to Join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay

Another all-time great is leaving New England to become a Buccaneer.

The Patriots agreed to trade retired tight end Rob Gronkowski and a 2020 seventh-round pick (No. 241 overall) to Tampa Bay for a 2020 fourth-round pick (No. 139 overall) Tuesday, sources told the Herald. The Pats are sending Gronkowski’s rights to the Bucs, who will soon reinstate him as a member of their team. The future Hall of Famer retired last spring after nine NFL seasons that thrust him into the conversation of greatest tight end to ever play.

Gronkowski passed a physical Tuesday to complete the trade. The Pats’ new fourth-rounder is reportedly the 139th overall pick, which keeps them at 12 total selections in the upcoming draft, second-most in the league.

Gronkowski has one year remaining on his contract. It carries a base salary of $9 million that will immediately count against Tampa Bay’s cap. The Pats currently hold less than $2 million in cap space.

Reuniting with Tom Brady and rediscovering the joy of playing football appear to be Gronk’s primary motivations for coming out of retirement. Two years ago, he threatened retirement to stop a trade before the 2018 draft that would have sent him to Detroit. The reason?

He didn’t want to play with another quarterback.

“(Tom) Brady’s my quarterback. That’s all,” Gronkowski explained to reporters months later. “Wasn’t going anywhere without Brady.”

Brady signed a 2-year, $59 million contract with the Bucs in mid-March. Without Gronkowski last season, he posted some of the worst numbers of his career at age 42. The all-time duo won three Super Bowls together after joining forces in 2010.

The Buccaneers, meanwhile, were thrilled to have landed Gronk, and getting him back with Brady.

“Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in NFL history, and he plays the game with the type of passion and desire that sets him apart,” Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht said in a statement Tuesday night, after the deal was finalized. “Rob has played his entire career alongside Tom Brady and their accomplishments speak for themselves. Together they have developed the type of chemistry on and off the field that is crucial to success. Rob combines elite-level skills as both a receiver and blocker, but what really makes him special is the fact that he’s a proven winner who brings that championship mindset and work ethic.”

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SOURCE: Boston Herald, Karen Guregian and Andrew Callahan