Rob Gronkowski Retires, Again

Tampa Bay TE Rob Gronkowski
Tampa Bay TE Rob Gronkowski
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement via Instagram on Tuesday afternoon.

Feels like we already did this once, right? We did, in fact. Here's a link to our original XP when Gronk retired the first time. Doesn't it feel like he's a good threat to come out of retirement again? Skip training camp, skip the first few weeks, show up in Week 12 when Tampa Bay is 7-3 and making another Super Bowl run?

Gronkowski accumulated 461 DYAR in 2011, the best tight end season on record by nearly 50 DYAR. It was one of six seasons in which he finished first or second among tight ends in DYAR, all in the initial part of his career with the New England Patriots. He also finished in the top 10 for DVOA eight times, leading the league in that category twice.

Cameron Brate is now the starting tight end for Tampa Bay, backed up by two rookies, Cade Otton and Ko Kieft.

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12 comments, Last at 22 Jun 2022, 5:07pm


Incredible player in all facets of his position.

3 Gronk was hurt a ton and was…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Gronk was hurt a ton and was a high-peak short-duration guy, whose career arc was basically a higher-volume Kellen Winslow or Dave Casper.
(That's hardly criticism, but it's a GOAT argument) It's also worth mentioning that Travis Kelce is chasing him down, fast -- his volume stats are almost identical in three fewer seasons, because Kelce is available a ton more often. And when you combine Kelce's 20% better availability (16 games per season vs 13) with his peak being 90-95% of Gronk's, it's not entirely clear Gronk is the best current TE.

Then there is Tony Gonzalez. Gonzalez basically had Gronk's career, twice. He's ahead by like 33% in counting stats, by 5 years, 2 APs, and 9 Pro Bowls. Gonzalez is as far ahead of the other TEs as Rice is ahead of the other WRs.

4 Boring

Tired: raw yardz and longevity 

Wired: complete peak game impact while posting 9.7 y/tgt and .64 td/g

Inspired: watchability 

9 You'll notice, of course,…

You'll notice, of course, that the PFF graphic in that tweet is "since 2006", which is as far back as their grades go. That skips the first nine years of Gonzalez's career, including four first-team and two second-team All Pros. "Watch the games nerd lol" doesn't hold up when you skip watching the actual peak of his career.

5 In terms of pure peak Gronk…

In terms of pure peak Gronk might be GOAT, (Him and like 1 year of Moss were the only time Brady had a guy he could just throw the ball near and let them get it, and it was nuts). In terms of career value, lots of players beat him. But yeah, he was hurt alot which keeps him out of GOAT conversations. 

We will know he is actually retired when he shows up as a media person somewhere. (Fox maybe? They pair him with Brady? lol)

6 The other knock on Gronk…

Winslow's 1980 might have something to say about that. Also, go check out Mike Ditka's 1961, and then era-adjust those numbers. (Then, for shiggles, compare him to other TEs in 1961) And as always, it depends on what position you think Don Hutson played.

The other knock on Gronk will be his utter dependence on a single, 1st ballot HOF QB. Gronk was practically Brady's major domo. It was never clear whether his show would travel, or whether he was just tuned into one QB who happened to be the all-time volume leader.

Again, Winslow and Casper, but more so. I freely acknowledge Gronk was likely a better blocker than those guys.

This hits Gates, too, but he at least had to learn a second QB. Gonzalez played with a pu-pu platter and his best guy was late-career with a Hall of Very Good QB.

\If you put Gronk and Ditka on the same team, would they have anything in common?

11 The game has changed so much…

The game has changed so much, I don't think you can make real comparisons between Gronk and guys that far in the past imo.

Of all of these superstar tight ends, Gronk was pretty singular during his era. A guy they actually lined up everywhere and because he was such a plus in the run game, you really couldn't just play dime and put shift cover guys all over him. Not that it mattered anyways; he's one of the very few athletes where smaller dudes who can cover are too small and bigger dudes with size are too slow. The perfect solution didn't exist.

I remember doing game charting for FO where I got the Colts vs NE. There was one play where the Colts defended him perfectly. It had the perfect timing of a linebacker riding Gronk just long enough to pass him off to the corner and safety where the throw ended up too high because the bracket coverage was on point. ONE play out of almost 20 + snaps. The rest of the time, Gronk abused the Colts defenders because its that freaken hard to actually guard him. 

Charting doesn't cover the meat of Gonzo's prime nor what kind of blocker he was; but given Gonzo's numbers are gonzo and the durability factor is decidely in his favor, I am happy to concede that Gonzo is the goat tight end.

However, having watched both players a lot, at their absolute peak - Gronk offers more to an offense than Gonzo did. 

12 Its a fun exercise(for me…

Its a fun exercise(for me anyways) thinking about Gronk compared to some of the other great offensive players. For me, I didn't see anyone pre 2000, so I missed the bulk of Rice's dominance. So with that caveat, including Gronk, there were maybe 3 other players I thought transcended the offense in ways that were meaningfully above their peers.

Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, and Marshaul Falk. Gronk belongs in that convo too for reasons I wrote above. 

Sometimes I like to come up with NBA analogies for players. I've always thought Steph Curry was like Randy Moss in terms of the gravity effect coming from their long range prowesses. That makes Gronk akin to Shaq - big lumbering monsters with incredible footwork that were simply too nimble and strong for any one type of defender. Plus both got mugged plenty.