As if this off-season has not been tumultuous enough, Rob Gronkowski decided to return to football; just not with New England. That is correct: he has come out of retirement, only to be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to join forces with Tom Brady. It was no more than a year ago since Gronk was seen on multiple networks talking about how happy he was with retirement and how healthy he felt both physically and mentally. While New England Patriots fans should never forget what both Brady and Gronkowski did in their time in New England, they also should recognize the lousy way the two handled it at the end.
For years and years, Tom Brady was someone who would take pay cuts, show up to OTA’s, and essentially do whatever was best for the team. The last couple of years here in New England, he complained about his contract, skipped optional practice, and ultimately admitted that he knew prior to the 2019 season that it would be his last in New England. In other words, he openly said he had one foot out the door. I understand that Patriot fans want to side with Brady after all he has done, but I cannot wrap my head around people ignoring the facts. Bill Belichick has been consistent his entire tenure here. He gets rid of people a year early rather than a year late, and does not treat any single player different than another one. Love him or hate him, he does things the same way no matter what. Brady simply changed; whether it be for better or for worse, he has been wildly inconsistent. While we have come to expect shenanigans from Gronkowski, he did not handle this the best way either.
After winning the Super Bowl in 2018, rumors were flying about Gronk’s potential retirement. It somewhat hindered the off-season, but many believed at the end of the day he would come back for one last season. As free agency was wrapping up, and tight ends were signing everywhere but here, he announced that his career was over. The Patriots were left with no one to replace him, thanks to him basically leading them on. Fast forward to the start of the 2019 regular season, in which each and every week the question was, “when is Gronk coming back?” This lasted until week ten, when Gronkowski claimed he had a big announcement coming. Unfortunately for New England fans, it turned out to be a promotion for his Super Bowl beach party, not his return to the game.
He strung fans along for almost a year, teasing his comeback. Instead, here we are a full year later, and Gronk is joining forces with his quarterback. While it definitely was some surprising news, it should not come as a shock. Brady must have been in his ear for a long time about reuniting elsewhere. No matter what anyone wants to say, I think Belichick should come out of this situation looking like the good guy. Gronk was only coming out of retirement to play with Brady, yet the Patriots still owned his rights and had him under contract. In other words, Belichick could have easily said no to making the trade, which would have completely blown up the plan. He decided to make things easy for all parties involved, making the deal with Tampa Bay. Some say the return was not nearly enough, which I find a bit stunning. Gronkowski has been out of football for a full year, and was deteriorating in his last couple of seasons. To expect anything more than a fourth round pick would have been crazy. Belichick got a free pick for a guy who was not going to be on his team anyways.