Patriots trade Rob Gronkowski to Brady's Buccaneers as TE ends retirement
New England receives 4th-round pick from Tampa Bay in return
Four-time All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has agreed to a reunion with Tom Brady.
The deal reunites the 30-year-old Gronkowski with Brady, who signed a two-year, $50 million US contract with the Bucs last month.
Gronkowski, who'll turn 31 on May 14, retired in March 2019 after nine seasons with the Patriots, who drafted him in the second round in 2010. He has one year left on his contract at $10 million.
Welcome to Tampa, <a href="https://twitter.com/RobGronkowski?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RobGronkowski</a> 😎<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBucs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoBucs</a> <a href="https://t.co/WM0tLyTCKk">pic.twitter.com/WM0tLyTCKk</a>—@Buccaneers
In addition to 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in 115 regular-season games, the five-time Pro Bowl selection has another 81 catches for 1,163 yards and 12 TDs in 16 playoff games.
Even without the prospect of adding Gronkowski, the tight end position was considered one of Tampa Bay's biggest strengths, with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate teaming with Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to form the best collection of targets Brady has had to work with in more than a decade.
The Bucs are coming off a 7-9 finish and missed the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season in 2019. They haven't won a post-season game since the franchise's only Super Bowl championship run 18 years ago.
Brady played in nine Super Bowls — winning six — in 20 seasons with the Patriots, who also appeared in 13 AFC championship games and won 17 division titles while the three-time league MVP was their primary starting quarterback.
Brady backs commitment to success in Tampa Bay
A few days after signing with the Bucs in free agency, Brady said not only was he impressed with a talented young roster Tampa Bay has assembled in recent years, but what he sensed is a commitment to do whatever necessary to be successful.
"I don't want to get into every process to the decision I was making at the time, but there were a lot of things that really were intriguing to me about the organization — the players, and the coaches and the willingness of everyone to try to accomplish what the goal of playing football is, which is to win," the four-time Super Bowl MVP said.
"I'm going to try to do everything I can in my position, and in what I am responsible for to make it happen," Brady added. "I've got to trust that everyone else is doing the exact same thing. That part is no different from what I've experienced in 20 years of my own role."
Gronkowski was an All-Pro in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017. He had 43 receptions for 682 yards and three TDs in 2018, his final season with the Patriots.
Without his favourite target, Brady had one of his worst non-injury seasons last year, throwing for 4,057 yards with 24 TDs vs. eight interceptions.
The Patriots, nevertheless, won 12 games and extended their string of consecutive playoff appearances to 11 before a sputtering offence contributed to a first-round loss to the Tennessee Titans.