It would be perhaps the biggest surprise of free agency if Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski ended up with another team when the dust settles, but the veteran tight end recently said in an interview with NFL Network and The Ringer’s Kyle Brandt that he will “dip [his] toes” in the free agency waters as a newbie to the process.
Rob Gronkowski: “I definitely want to be back with the Buccaneers… that’s where I’m leaning. But with the free agency process you never know what may happen.” #GoBucspic.twitter.com/5MVXXS5kAo
“It’s pretty rare to see someone to ever even finish a contract in the NFL, so that was pretty special there,” Gronkowski said. “But I’ve never been a free agent before, but I’m planning on being a free agent after every season. I feel like I’m a one-year deal guy for the rest of my career — even if I play 10 more years. I’m going to be a one-year deal guy, a free agent every year, and just control my destiny every year.”
That’s some breaking news from Gronkowski, who seems to be suggesting that the Bucs signing him to a two-year contract that would match the length of Tom Brady’s current deal is out of the question. It has long been assumed that Gronkowski would like to stay in Tampa Bay for multiple reasons, including the pursuit of another championship, his close friendship with Brady and the close proximity to his mother, who lives two hours away in Fort Myers.
“I definitely want to be back with the Buccaneers. That’s where my eyesight is. That’s where I’m leaning toward, big time,” Gronkowski said. “But with the free agency process, you just never know what may happen. There’s some other teams interested out there, too. I’ve also never been a part of the free agency process, so I actually want to dip my toes in, just to see what’s out there.”
Gronkowski has said several times over the past few months that he expects to be back in Tampa Bay, and new contracts for LB Lavonte David and OLB Shaq Barrett have come with low 2021 cap hits to ensure that players like Gronkowski, DT Ndamukong Suh, K Ryan Succop and WR Antonio Brown could also return to the team this season. Time will tell if Gronkowski finds an offer on the open market more appealing than returning to Tampa Bay, or if his words are more posturing for leverage in negotiations.
If Gronkowski is truly available, teams would be wise to throw money at him. He’s a good run blocker, one of the best pass protecting tight ends in the NFL and still a big-time threat down the field. According to Pro Football Focus, Gronkowski had the most deep targets (20+ air yards) amongst all NFL tight ends with 16, and the most deep catches with eight. For the season, Gronkowski caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns, adding two more touchdown receptions in the Super Bowl.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft