Gronk has played eight seasons, which isn’t much based on the standards of other great receiving tight ends. However, a number of injuries have raised speculation that he might call it quits on a Hall of Fame career. It helps matters that Gronkowski has saved his football earnings, while living off endorsement deals.
Following the Super Bowl, Gronkowski refused to commit on if he’ll be back on the field in 2018 and beyond.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, I’m definitely going to look at my future, for sure. Sit down the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at.”
According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Greer, the chance that Gronkowski retires is very real:
“I believe Rob Gronkowski’s rumblings about retirement are real. He’s been responsible with his finances (putting away most of his football money and living largely off his endorsement cash), and he’s taken an absolute beating. That this is a real choice for high-profile players now is great progress, too. Give credit to ex-Niner LB Patrick Willis and ex-Lions WR Calvin Johnson credit for blazing that trail.”
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington had sources tell him that “[Gronkowski] “began telling some people close to him, even before he suffered a concussion in the AFC Championship Game, that football was taking a toll on his body and he was contemplating the end of his playing days.”
Gronkowski WWE Rumors
If Gronkowski indeed retires from the gridiron, then he might already have another career lined up in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). He joked about this during the 2016 offseason, while also mentioning that he didn’t want to retire before teammate Tom Brady.
Gronk is good friends with WWE star Mojo Rawley, who fueled the retirement rumors by telling TMZ that it’s a “matter of when, not if.”
Could the Retirement Talks be about Money?
Gronkowski restructured his contract last year, because he was only slated to make $5 million. The restructuring was about including incentives that helped him make $10.75 million, which is closer to what he’d make on the free-agent market.
He’s set to earn $9 million in 2018 and $10 million in 2019, which will keep him as the league’s highest-paid tight end. But he could want more money, given that his career might be shorter than expected due to his many injuries.
The 28-year-old has some leverage after a great Super Bowl performance, in which he caught 9 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He also had another strong regular season, catching 69 passes for 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns.
These stats put Gronkowski into the conversation with elite receivers, rather than just a tight end who’s good at catching passes.
Gronk Retirement Rumors are Likely Real
Considering that Gronkowski has thrived for years on a team that doesn’t play many contract negotiation games, it’s unlikely that he’s faking retirement for a bigger payday. There’s a very real possibility that he could hang up his shoulder pads.
“I’ll sit down in the next couple of weeks and see where I’m at,” Gronkowski told the New York Post following the Super Bowl LII loss.
Gronkowski missed Super Bowl LI due to an injury. And he was in danger of missing Super Bowl LII, following a helmet-to-helmet hit from Jacksonville safety Barry Church in the AFC title game.
The extra week between the AFC Championship and Super Bowl helped Gronk prepare. And he delivered, catching two second-half touchdowns, the second of which gave the Patriots a 33-32 lead.
Hard to Think about Next Year
The media asked Gronkowski if he’s going to use the Super Bowl 52 loss as motivation. And he responded by saying that it’s tough to look this far head.
“It’s just hard losing. I don’t even know if I can think about next year right now,” Gronk explained. “We’ve just got to sit back and relax for a couple of weeks and just look back at all our fond memories of a great season we had.”
The main reason why Gronkowski feels like a loser is because Philly QB Nick Foles had the performance of his life on the main stage. That said, it’s not like anybody can count New England out in the 2018-19 season. This is especially the case if Rob Gronkowski does come back for another year or longer.