Gronk retiring after 11 NFL seasons, 4 Super Bowl titles
Rob Gronkowski is hanging up his cleats - again.
"I want to thank the whole entire first-class Buccaneers organization for an amazing ride, trusting me to come back to play and help build a championship team," Gronkowski wrote on Instagram.
"I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field. The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well.
"From retirement, back to football and winning another championship, and now back to chilling out, thank you to all."
The future of the veteran tight end had been a topic of discussion throughout the offseason after Gronkowski said he'd take time to evaluate his options at the end of last year. He recorded 802 yards in 2021 but could only suit up for 12 games due to injuries.
Gronkowski missed the 2019 season after riding into the sunset following the Patriots' victory in Super Bowl LIII. However, he returned the following year to team up with longtime quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.
The 33-year-old served a familiar role as one of Brady's top targets in his two seasons with the Buccaneers. He helped the club win Super Bowl LV - the fourth championship of his career - by catching two touchdowns in the 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game when he is still enjoying that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotions I feel today are gratitude and respect for one of the greatest tight ends who ever played the game," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said.
"While his on-field accomplishments will surely earn him a gold jacket and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is his humble attitude and team-first approach to the game that truly defined his career."
Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he was unsure if the tight end's retirement is final.
"It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call," Rosenhaus told ESPN's Adam Schefter. "This is just my opinion, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season."
Gronk built one of the most decorated playoff resumes in NFL history alongside Brady, who was his quarterback in each of his 11 seasons. The duo connected for an NFL-record 15 touchdowns in the postseason.
Gronkowski's era of dominance began as a second-round pick by the Patriots in 2010. He earned five Pro Bowls and eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards on four occasions during his nine-year tenure in New England.
His 92 career touchdowns trail only Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111) for most all time among tight ends.