After a year of retirement, tight end Rob Gronkowski made his return to the NFL with the Bucs, re-joining former teammate Tom Brady en route to yet another Super Bowl victory for the duo in 2021.

But given that Gronkowski joined the Bucs on the last year of his previous extension with the Patriots, paying the veteran tight end roughly $10 million in 2020, he will technically head into free agency this offseason.

Former teammate Rob Ninkovich, who won two Super Bowls with Gronkowski and Brady in New England, commented on Gronkowski’s upcoming free agency.

“Gronk is in his 10th year, he’s never been a free agent. He has never explored free agency,” Ninkovich said on the Pat McAfee show. “He signed a six-year deal back in like 2012, some crazy long time ago, right? So think about this, he’s never been a free agent. Why not go out there and test [his market value?] What is his market value? He’s a big-time target, he can still make a lot of plays, he just scored two touchdowns in the Super Bowl.”

Not only did Ninkovich predict that Gronkowski will test free agency, but he also mentioned which team would make a good fit.

“I’m telling you, I think that he’s going to explore [free agency,]” Ninkovich said. “He’s got a beautiful penthouse at the top of some building in Miami so I think that would be a good fit for him. He’s got a great relationship with [head coach Brian Flores] so I mean, that could be a good landing spot if the Bucs don’t value him the way that he should be valued

“And they say, ‘Well, he did state that he wants to play with Tom and only Tom, let’s offer him nothing. Let’s offer him pennies.’ If that’s the case, he might have a chance to go somewhere.”

But as Ninkovich stands firm that Gronkowski will go out and explore free agency, in doesn’t seem realistic given what the tight end has said in recent interviews. As Ninkovich himself even mentioned, Gronkowski didn’t come out of retirement to go chase the biggest check he could find, he came out of retirement to play with Brady and maybe win a Super Bowl or two in Tampa Bay while he’s at it.

Gronkowski himself even said that he fully expects to be back with the Bucs in 2021.

“Yeah, you gotta,” Gronkowski said about coming back and playing another year with Brady and the Bucs. “I feel like this team was built to win right now, it was put together this year to win right now. It always pops up in your mind, you’re thinking about the future a little bit. I can definitely see this team have a lot of talent come back and having another successful run next year as well, with me.”

So while Ninkovich has his own views on what Gronkowski’s offseason plans will look like, I wouldn’t expect his explorations in free agency to stray too far from a short-term deal with Tampa Bay.

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chefboho
4 months ago

I’m no coach, but I think there ZERO chance Gronk leaves. He came back just to play with Nrady so it wouldn’t make sense and he doesn’t need the money. This is just a headline grab by a former teammate in my opinion

compewterpirate
Reply to  chefboho
4 months ago

Totally agreed, there is no chance Gronk leaves. Even so the Bucs need to pay him what he deserves. He was an absolute stud in the playoffs and if Brate is due $6.5 million next season and OJ Howard $3.5 mill, then Gronk, as our #1 tight end, needs to be rewarded accordingly (even if the other two have to take a pay cut to remain on the team).

Mike Pengelly
4 months ago

No way Jose !!! It’s too much fun watching TB12 and Gronk connect in the end zone and wait for the big Gronk spike !!

eaustinyoung
4 months ago

He lied to avoid being traded to the Lions. Why would he leave after just hitting his peak and having a massive game for his 4th Super Bowl on a new team with his best buddy Brady?

Buc76
4 months ago

Ninkovich knows nothing he’s trying to stir things up. He’s just trying to make a name for himself. Why Miami? Because Gronk has a condo there? They would win nothing. Its negotiation. He wants the Bucs to know he’s not going to play for nothing. That’s all it is. In the end the Bucs will keep him and pay him close to what he wants. He is very important from a playing and teammate perspective. They won it all but now they have to play as the defending champ. Gronk knows a hell of a lot about what it takes… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Buc76
4 months ago

I’m not saying I disagree with you that Gronk is unlikely to leave Tampa and/or go to Miami specifically, but Miami looks to me like an attractive destination for any and all free agents. They have a ton of money available, a ton of draft assets for the next couple of years, a really solid defense, and a promising young QB in Tua. Obviously, Tua is the wild card in the whole equation. If a guy doesn’t buy him as the franchise QB they want and need him to be, then he’s not going to think he could win in… Read more »

Runole
Reply to  Buc76
4 months ago

agree There are always going to be those that play the break up the Bucs narrative. Envy and jealousy are always present. Sounds like sour grapes from a Dolphin sycophant.

ScottC543
4 months ago

No chance Gronk’s going anywhere. He’s a Buc as long as TB is the QB. Period.
I think I remember Gronk saying before that he’s saved all of his recent pay, so he’s already got the bank. He’s not chasing the money, he’s having fun.

Last edited 4 months ago by ScottC543
toofamiliar17
Reply to  ScottC543
4 months ago

Yea, from what I’ve read and heard about Gronk in the past, it sounds like he’s barely spent any of the money he’s made, and he’s made plenty. It seems odd for a guy who parties and seems to live it up as much as he does, but if he’s actually super frugal and has mostly saved his money and he plans to remain relatively frugal long term, then he’s already earned enough (north of $30M total after taxes, if I’m figuring it right) that he’ll definitely never run out of money. That’s not to say he couldn’t still earn… Read more »

Spitfire
4 months ago

Man sports players are the greediest MFers around aren’t they? That’s all some think about is money when they are already getting ridiculous money. Some guys think more about their legacy and enjoying themselves which is what Brady has done in his career and Gronk seems to be the same. The Bucs aren’t gonna offer him pennies, they can easily get him $7-$9 mil with incentives partly counting against next year and for someone his age who isn’t as fast as he used to be yet plays like an animal and works best playing with his boy Tom, there’s no… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

The only other group I agreedy are politicians.

Horse
Reply to  Horse
4 months ago

The only other group has greedy or politicians.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

I rarely blame players for trying to maximize their value. How much would you sell 20-25 years of your life for? Because on average, that’s about the impact playing in the NFL has on life expectancy. At last check, the life expectancy for NFL players is a brutal 53-59 years. Now, that number may be improving with recent rule and policy changes, but even still, this is a game that absolutely destroys the human body. A lot of these guys are trying to set themselves up not only to live lives of luxury while they’re here, but also to ensure… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 months ago

Yup.
Besides, getting paid is not just about the dollars and what they buy in life, but it’s also about respect, and being treated fairly compared to your peers.
If all your peers were getting paid $100K a year to do the same job you’re getting paid $50K to do, then you’d be at least a little miffed.
It’s all relative.

Horse
4 months ago

I think they all should go out and test the market and let other teams overpay for their needs. We are not that bad at tight end if OJ Howard can stay healthy.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
4 months ago

I expect completely the opposite – NFL players love to win, and to be champions … it’s the career pinnacle for any player to win a Super Bowl, or several. Consequently, I expect most if not all potential free agents to agree to play for the Bucs for less than some other team might theoretically pay them. We’ve already seen Mike Evans offer to restructure his big contract. Shaq Barrett has already said he expects to be back with the Bucs, regardless of contract dollars. The Bucs can easily gain another $7M in cap room simply by extending Tom Brady… Read more »

cobraboy
4 months ago

He did not come back to play and make $$$.

He came back to play with his BFF, Tom Brady.

As long as Brady is a Buc, Gronk will want to be a Buc.

plopes808
Reply to  cobraboy
4 months ago

He came back because of his spotty cell service lol

Jay
Jay
4 months ago

I just don’t understand why people in sports have to say so much crap. 1 Gronk said that he wasn’t going anywhere and that there is no reason why he wouldn’t be back. 2 Gronk has always said that he only wants to catch passes from BRADY. THE ONLY REASON HE CAME BACK WAS BECAUSE OF BRADY. I just with they would stop talking crap just to get in the light.

Jay
Jay
4 months ago

The thing with Gronk is that he is a true TE unlike the KC TE. Gronk is great down field but he is also like an extra linemen at the line. He can handle DE all of them it doesn’t matter who they are. Gronk is the whole package. He plays as long as Brady plays because Brady is GRONKS QB…

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Jay
4 months ago

Eh, Travis Kelce is a great blocker. The Chiefs are so in love with him as a receiver (and who can blame them?) and their passing attack as a whole that they don’t frequently ask him to block, but he’s an elite blocking TE.

Dave
Reply to  toofamiliar17
4 months ago

Disagree on the elite part. Gronk is elite. I’ll give you that he’s much better than he’s ever been given credit for. And is actually pretty solid. But he’s far from elite

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Dave
4 months ago

We’re kinda getting into semantics here. Over the course of his career as a whole, Gronk has been the best blocking TE in football. I don’t think that to be considered “elite” you have to be literally the best. There’s more than one elite QB, one elite WR, one elite everything in the game. Whatever term you want to use for it, Travis Kelce is an excellent blocker. This past season, he led ALL tight end’s in run blocking by PFF’s grading. When asked to do it, he’s also a very good pass blocker. There is no hole in Kelce’s… Read more »

bucballer
4 months ago

That’s just BS! Gronk ain’t going anywhere! Him and Brady r like brothers! He plays his role on this team and he is good at it. He’s another reliable set of hands. His experience and his infectious persona is liked by all.

plopes808
4 months ago

Fake News!

Captain Sly
4 months ago

Gronk will be compensated based on his peers along with every other FA on the Bucs. Nobody in the FO is trying to low ball these guys. Some will get huge offers to join other clubs and some will reject offers but in the end Licht, BA & the organization will deal in good faith.

Dave
4 months ago

This was never about money. Otherwise he would have just stayed retired. He was perfectly content doing broadcasting and wrestling(which would have payed him much much more than he’s making now btw). This is as dumb a comment as I’ve ever read. The only way Gronk even considers going anywhere, is if the Bucs insult him with a laughably low contract offer, while at the same time, some team offers him the perfect situation + a ridiculous contract that he can’t possibly say no to. The odds of either of those things happening, are probably slim to none. Only the… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Dave
Naplesfan
4 months ago

Gronk retired … he didn’t need a bigger paycheck. He needed to do what he wanted to do, which was to play again with TB-12 and win some Super Bowls.
Just cuz Ninkovich is a former teammate doesn’t mean he knows what motiviates Gronk.

MCBRICKEL
4 months ago

Ninkompoopvich, is wrong. The team wants and will keep the Gronk