If Rob Gronkowski plans to play in 2022, that would be news to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles confirmed on Friday that nothing has changed regarding Gronkowski’s uncertain NFL future. The future Hall of Fame tight end has yet to publicly make a decision on whether or not he will resume his career in 2022.
“It’s still status quo,” Bowles said about Gronkowski, who on Saturday will celebrate his 33rd birthday.
Bowles said he does not have a timetable for when Gronkowski may inform him of his plans. Gronkowski recently said that he would only need two weeks to get back into football shape. The four-time Super Bowl champion also said recently that, should he play in 2022, the Buccaneers will be the team he plays for.
“The Buccaneers situation is just too good if I decide to go back and play,” Gronkowski told SB Nation. “Like I said, I love all my teammates there. They are all great teammates and all selfless players, they are there for the team and what’s best for the team and the whole organization. If I do play football again, it’ll be for the Bucs.”
Gronkowski knows how to work himself back into football shape following an extensive break. He spent the 2019 season in retirement before joining Tom Brady in Tampa in 2020. After a slow start, Gronkowski caught 45 passes for 623 yards and seven touchdowns during his first season with the Buccaneers. He then caught two touchdown passes in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl win over Kansas City.
Gronkowski’s numbers were even better in 2021. Despite playing in just 12 games, Gronkowski caught 55 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns. It was his best statistical season since 2017, when he earned All-Pro honors for the fourth time.
The Buccaneers selected two tight ends during the 2022 NFL Draft in the event that Gronkowski doesn’t come back for the upcoming season. But as Bowles reiterated on Friday, the team is still leaving the door open for Gronkowski should he decide to return.
“I’m still giving him that time,” Buccaneers GM Jason Licht said during the draft, via the Tampa Bay Times. “We still talk. I think it didn’t matter if we drafted two tight ends. It wouldn’t matter. I think Rob welcomes that — the more the merrier for him. So that doesn’t show our hand or foretell what’s going to happen in the future.”