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Rob Gronkowski requests trade from Patriots to Buccaneers - Boston Herald
Gronkowski would reunite with Tom Brady after spending a year away from football.
Another all-time great is leaving New England to become a Buccaneer. The Patriots are trading retired tight end Rob Gronkowski and a 2020 seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay for a 2020 fourth-round pick, sources tell the Herald. The Pats are sending Gronkowski’s rights to the Bucs, who will soon reinstate him as a member of their team. The future Hall of Famer retired last spring after nine NFL seasons that thrust him into the conversation of greatest tight end to ever play. Gronkowski passed a physical Tuesday to complete the trade. The Pats’ new fourth-rounder is either the 117th or 139th overall pick, which will give them 13 selections in the upcoming draft, second-most in the league. Gronkowski has one year remaining on his contract. It carries a base salary of $9 million that will immediately count against Tampa Bay’s cap sheet. The Pats currently hold less than $2 million in cap space. Reuniting with Brady and rediscovering the joy of playing football appear to be Gronk’s primary motivations for coming out of retirement. Two years ago, he threatened retirement to stop a trade ahead of the 2018 draft that would have sent him to Detroit. The reason? He didn’t want to play with another quarterback. “[Tom] Brady’s my quarterback. That’s all,” Gronkowski explained to reporters months later. “Wasn’t going anywhere without Brady.” Brady signed a 2-year, $59 million contract with the Bucs in mid-March. Without Gronkowski last season, he posted some of the worst numbers of his career at age 42. The all-time duo won three Super Bowls together after joining forces in 2010. Gronk, who turns 31 in May, left the door open to a return several times since he retired. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, floated the idea of a reunion with Brady mere hours after Gronk announced he was stepping away. “If the team was struggling or they needed him at some point next year, and lets just say hypothetically Tom Brady gave him a call and said Rob, I need you. I wouldnt be shocked if he came back to play a few games,” Rosenhaus told ESPN last spring. In January, Gronkowski said he weighs around 250 pounds, down 15 from his playing days. He’s long maintained he’s still in shape, working out six to seven times a week and embracing a new diet; indications he may need only weeks of training to return to football. Barely a year before he retired, Gronkowski posted the fourth 1,000-yard season of his career in 2017. The following year, his last with the Patriots, he labored through an injury-riddled campaign that wore on him physically and mentally. Nonetheless, Gronk secured an all-time clutch catch in Super Bowl LIII, a 29-yarder that set up the only touchdown of the Pats’ 13-3 title win over the Rams. A five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro, Gronkowski was revered for his receiving and blocking abilities in New England. He totaled 602 catches for 9,024 yards and 91 touchdowns and set several NFL records. In Tampa Bay, Gronk will add to one of the most talented offensive rosters in the league. The Bucs boast two Pro Bowl wideouts in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus pass-catching threats at tight end in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Their offensive line also graded out as one of the NFL’s best pass-blocking units last season at Pro Football Focus. Without Gronkowski, the Patriots’ tight end depth consists only of veteran Matt LaCosse and 2018 seventh-rounder Ryan Izzo. Last season, Pats tight ends were the least-targeted of any group in the NFL. Ben Watson, who started eight games at the position in 2019, retired this offseason.