rob gronkowski-new england patriots-retirement

In case watching their team lose the Super Bowl wasn’t bad enough news for Patriots fans Sunday, they learned following the game that one of the best players in franchise history, Rob Gronkowski, might be preparing to hang up his cleats.

At his postgame press conference, Gronk wouldn’t commit to returning for 2018, saying he would evaluate his options this offseason.

“I’m definitely going to look at my future, for sure,” he said. “I’m going to sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at.”

Asked what would make him retire, the four-time All-Pro said he wasn’t ready to talk specifics but that, “I’m just going to sit down, reflect on the season, talk to my teammates.”

Obviously, Gronk saying he will weigh his options is quite different from him saying he plans to quit. But the 28-year-old had multiple chances to quash retirement rumors and instead validated them. That’s likely enough to give Bill Belichick shivers.

Gronk is the best tight end in the NFL and maybe the best ever at the position. This season he caught 69 passes (yep, really) in 14 games, for 1,084 and eight touchdowns. It was the fourth time in his eight-year career that he went over 1,000 yards and the sixth time he caught at least eight scores. Gronk’s ability was on display Sunday night, when he caught nine passes for 116 yards, including two impressive touchdown grabs.

But although Gronk is surely a future Hall of Famer, his career hasn’t exactly been easy. He has battled a number of injuries, including a torn ACL in 2013 and a herniated disc in 2016. Thanks to those and other ailments, he has not played 16 games in a season since 2011. In the Patriots’ AFC Championship victory over the Jaguars just two weeks ago, Gronk exited with an apparent concussion.

Gronk’s retirement would deprive Tom Brady of his favorite target and the NFL of an incredible player, but in the end the tight end has to do what is best for himself. We’ll find out soon what he decides.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.