BOSTON (CBS) — From the immediate moments after the Super Bowl all the way through late April, much of last offseason was spent questioning Rob Gronkowski’s future. That’s reportedly on tap to happen again, but this time, he might actually retire.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that Gronkowski is once again considering retirement, and that he’s closer to that decision this year than he was last year.
“The Patriots’ long-time fixture is expected to weigh retirement once again, and he may be playing the final games of his likely Hall of Fame career,” Rapoport reported. “Just 29 years old and financially set, Gronkowski nearly retired last season rather than be traded to the Lions and finish his career elsewhere.”
Rapoport said “people close to” Gronkowski believe he will retire.
Rapoport added that while Gronkowski has physically made it through the season, he’s struggled with the emotional part of the game.
“While he’s feeling physically good going into today’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, those who know him well say the season has taken an emotional toll on him. Perhaps strongly considering retiring last year put him in a place where it was difficult to get fired up for this season,” Rapoport wrote. “Gronkowski hasn’t seemed to be the same effusive personality and people close to him say everything has been a battle. They wonder how much he loves it.”
Gronkowski’s numbers and production are significantly down this season. He played in 13 games, catching 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns. That comes out to 3.6 receptions, 52.5 yards, and 0.23 TDs per game — a major drop from the 4.6 receptions, 70.4 yards and 0.75 TDs per game numbers he established from 2010-17.
The Patriots play the Chargers at home on Sunday. If they win, they’ll advance to the AFC Championship Game next week in Kansas City. If the report ends up being true, Sunday’s game vs. the Chargers would be Gronkowski’s final game at Gillette Stadium.