Rob Gronkowski was mulling a return to the NFL even before Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and would have considered returning to New England, the Pro Bowl tight end said Wednesday during his introductory virtual press conference.
The Buccaneers sent a fourth-round pick (No. 139 overall) to the Patriots, who sent back a seventh-rounder (No. 241) in Tuesday’s trade.
Gronkowski, streaming his remarks and taking questions via Zoom, said he told Brady that he was considering a comeback to the NFL during a workout together two months ago, even if Brady had returned to the Patriots.
“It would definitely have been an opportunity I would have looked at for sure because playing for Tom is special,” Gronkowski said about returning to the Patriots. “He’s one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.
“It just happened to be the right opportunity, I feel like, down in Tampa. Yes, Tom is like the appetizer of the whole meal. He got me hooked when he went down to Tampa. I saw what was down there, just the opportunity to go down there and play with that type of offense.”
Gronkowski was asked about playing again for Patriots coach Bill Belichick, saying New England “isn’t an easy place to play.”
“I’m not going to sit here and say it’s the easiest organization to play for. I’ve also never played for another organization. I haven’t even been down to Tampa yet, so I’m not even sure what to expect,” Gronkowski said. “But I know that the New England Patriots, hands down, it’s not the easiest place to play, but it gets you right. It gets you mentally right. It gets you physically right.”
But for the tight end who has caught 79 career touchdown passes from one quarterback, this comeback is all about playing with Brady.
“We have a great chemistry out there and every time we get together; it’s just like the old days,” Gronkowski said.
A five-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro, Gronkowski totaled 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and the 79 touchdowns across nine seasons for the Patriots from 2010-18. He had 47 catches for 682 yards and three scores over 13 games in 2018, battling a few nagging injuries.
—Field Level Media