BOSTON (CBS) — Rob Gronkowski goes where Tom Brady goes, so now the two are in Tampa Bay. But what if Brady had stayed in New England this offseason?
Gronkowski came out of his one-year retirement on Wednesday to officially join Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New England traded the tight end, whose rights they still owned, for a fourth-round pick on Tuesday after Gronk expressed his desire to play with Brady once again.
But if Brady had stayed with the Patriots, would Gronkowski had considered a return to New England in 2020? He certainly would have.
“I would have definitely looked at the opportunity for sure, hands down,” Gronnkowski said during his introductory Zoom call with the Bucs. “At that moment when he was going through the free agent process, I was interested to see where he was going to go. That was his decision to make; I’m not a guy that is going to sit there and try to put pressure on him. At that moment in time I was still up in the air too. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play. I had a little fire underneath me.
“But it would have definitely been an opportunity I would have looked at, for sure, because playing with Tom is special” added Gronk. “He’s one of the greatest quarterback of all time.”
The cap-strapped Patriots would have needed to clear quite a bit of cap space to fit Gronk’s salary onto the books for the 2020 season, not to mention whatever salary Brady require, so a reunion in New England may have never happened.
Gronnkowski retired in March of 2018 following a nine-year Hall of Fame career with the Patriots. He said Wednesday that he needed a year off because his body was burnt out, though that passion for the game returned this offseason.
But when Brady signed a two-year deal with the Bucs in March, a return to the Patriots went off the table. He wouldn’t want to catch passes from anyone other than Brady, so following him to Tampa Bay was the only way he’d return to football.
“We have a great chemistry out there and every time we get together it’s just like the old days. It doesn’t matter if we take a month off or six moths apart, we’re out there throwing the ball just like it’s a normal practice no matter what,” he said. “It just happened to be the right opportunity down in Tampa.”
Gronkowski said Brady sold him on the Buccaneers, who now sport a pretty high-powered offense with Brady, Gronk and stud receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
“Tom was like the appetizer of the whole meal. He got me hooked when he went down to Tampa,” said Gronkowski. “I saw what was down there, and to go play with that type of offense — they’ve got some special wide receivers and other great tight ends. Let me tell you, I love working with tight ends. I’m definitely looking forward to working with O.J. [Howard] and [Cameron Brate]. That’s definitely a special opportunity.”