Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski did not commit to returning to New England in 2018 after the team’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. When asked about rumors of his retirement after the game, Gronk was did not dismiss the idea of retirement:
Gronk caught nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the Super Bowl. Despite the loss, Gronkowski continued his climb through the NFL record books. His 12th postseason receiving touchdown ties John Stallworth for second most all time. Only Jerry Rice (22) has caught more postseason touchdowns per NFL Research.
The duo of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski also matched a record. Brady and Gronk tied Rice and Joe Montana for the most touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver duo in NFL history, per NFL Research.
Gronk has had plenty of health problems throughout the course of his career which could contribute to an early retirement. The tight end wasn’t cleared to play until a few days before Super Bowl LII, per NFL.com. Gronkowski suffered a concussion in the first half of the AFC Championship game against the Jaguars. Gronk got knocked out of the game by Jacksonville safety Barry Church, who crushed the tight end with a helmet-to-helmet hit, knocking the ball loose but picking up a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.
Gronk’s injury bug began biting him in college. In 2009, while a junior at Arizona, he was sidelined for the entire season after undergoing surgery for a bulging disk in his back, the Boston Globe reports. Gronk’s injury in college caused his draft stock to drop. He wasn’t taken until the second round, selected 42nd overall by the Patriots in the 2010 NFL Draft. In 2011, Gronk sprained his ankle and was forced to leave the AFC Championship win over the Baltimore Ravens. Gronk returned to play in Super Bowl XLVI but was hampered by the injury and only caught two passes for 26 yards in a loss to the New York Giants.
In 2012 Gronk’s upper body became the issue. He got surgery in November after breaking his left forearm while blocking an extra point against the Colts. Gronkowski missed the final five games of the regular season. He would return for the playoffs, and briefly appeared in the Patriots AFC Divisional playoff win over the Houston Texans before breaking the same forearm. The 2013 season was put on hold in June when Gronk was diagnosed with fractured vertebra, forcing him to miss the entire preseason and six regular-season games. Gronkowski returned in late October and played in seven games before tearing the ACL and MCL in his right knee on Dec. 8 against the Browns. He also suffered a concussion on the same play.
Gronkowski was relatively healthy in 2014, playing in 15 games, In 2015 he was carted off the field in Denver after taking a similar hit to his right knee against the Broncos on Nov. 29. Gronk missed the remainder of the game but returned the following week and didn’t miss any additional time that season due to the knee injury.
Finally in 2016, Gronk missed three games in total, two with a hamstring injury and one with a chest injury. Gronk’s contract is player-friendly, he is owed $8 million in 2018 and another $9 million in 2019 the next two seasons. He can also make up to $3 million in bonuses if he plays next season. Gronk also has a $5 million guarantee for injury written into his current contract. ProFootballTalk.com made a prediction on twitter about Gronk’s possible retirement hours before his postgame remarks.