There were a lot of great moments when you think of Rob Gronkowski’s first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, perhaps best highlighted by his two-touchdown performance in the Bucs’ 31-9 win over the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
One thing from the season that might get overlooked, though, was that one year after retirement Gronkwoski was able to play a full 20 games on the year without missing any time. That’s an accomplishment that he’s very proud of.
“Playing all 20 games, all 16 regular season games, not missing a practice, not missing a game, not missing anything in the postseason was just a great feeling,” Gronkowski said on Monday in a press conference following signing a one-year deal to remain in Tampa Bay.
“It was something I wanted to prove to myself that I could do. Prove to myself that the things I’ve learned and I’ve taken in and that I’ve changed that I can play a full season and play a full postseason at a high level, too. It was great overall to complete that mission.”
Gronkowski is back with the Bucs for another season on an $8 million deal, and he’ll go year-by-year for the rest of his career. Playing a full season last year was big for him, but he wants to make sure it happens once more again his season. In fact, if the season were starting this month, he’d already be good to go.
“I feel like I could play another full season right now if it started,” Gronkowski said. “I feel like I can do it now with a year under my belt doing it a different way than I was early on, so I feel like I can just pick it up and keep improving now throughout this season also. Everything that I changed throughout my career is definitely paying off and it feels great.
“I feel light, I feel flexible, I feel like I can go out and just play some football. Just go out and not be thinking and just play football and run routes and do what I got to do out on the field. I definitely feel like I’m ready to go to play another full season coming up this year and just take it a year at a time like that.”
The physical adjustments were one thing to get ready for after a year of retirement, but the mental aspect of learning an entirely new playbook was another. Gronkowski admitted that it took about half the season to get totally comfortable with the offense. Now that he’s got that down and the Bucs plan to have most of their offense returning this season, there’s no reason that they can’t be better this year even after winning a Super Bowl together.
“I definitely do think we can be better on the offensive side of the ball,” Gronkowski said. “I feel like with so many players coming back, another offseason under our belt, another training camp, a full season under our belt, that we can definitely continue where we left off.”