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.