As Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson would have eloquently put it during his WWE days, “Finally…the Gronk…haaaasss come back to Foxboro!”
On Tuesday, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski met with head coach Bill Belichick to inform him that he plans on playing for the 2018 season. On Monday, Tom Brady (via his agent, Don Yee) also confirmed that he has committed to playing in the upcoming season.
Once news of Gronkowski’s confirmation began to circulate, a collective exhale could be heard throughout all of New England.
After Super Bowl LII, Gronkowski raised quite a few eyebrows by admitting that he was contemplating retirement. For the past couple of months, the Pats prolific tight end continued to reiterate that he “was not sure” if he would play in 2018. In addition to concerns about his long-term health, rumors abounded that Gronkowski was considering a career in Hollywood, or possibly World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE.)
When the team gathered in Foxboro last week for the start of the voluntary offseason workout program, Gronkowski was not present. Instead, he was said to have been working out at the TB12 Center at Patriot Place (which is in close proximity to Gillette Stadium.) His absence created speculation that Gronkowski might have been unhappy with the team, or simply posturing for a salary increase. On Saturday, he further fueled that speculation by conducting an odd press conference during a Monster Energy Supercross event, which he was attending. While Gronkowski seemed to playfully hint that he would be back for 2018, he failed to offer any concrete confirmation on his playing status.
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However, he put the uncertainty to rest on Tuesday evening. Gronkowski made the following announcement on his Instagram page:
“I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats,” Gronkowski wrote. “I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was also in the meeting with Belichick on Tuesday. Schefter also added that Gronkowski would not be traded this season.
Gronkowski currently has two years left on his deal. He’s set to count as a $10.9 million cap hit this season and then as a $12 million cap hit in 2019. At this time, it is unknown if Gronkowski’s return will be accompanied by a contract extension. Also, it is still possible that the Patriots choose to address the tight end position in this weekend’s NFL Draft. However, in the immediate, it appears that Patriots Nation may enjoy that much-needed sigh of relief.
Tom Brady is back.
Gronkowski is back.
The Patriots hopes for contending for a Super Bowl title have returned to normal.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC