One of the most prolific tight ends in NFL history is calling it a career.
“It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far,” Gronkowski wrote. “I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that [Patriots owner Robert Kraft] and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010.”
Hobbled by injury, Gronkowski’s effectiveness in the Patriots’ offense has been limited over the last three seasons. In November, Gronkowski described his 2018 season as “challenging” after nagging back and ankle injuries kept him sidelined for multiple games.
In 13 games last season, Gronkowski still made an impact — even if he wasn’t playing at his typical Pro Bowl level. He caught 47 passes for 682 yards but was held to only three touchdowns, the lowest since his injury-riddled 2016 season. Despite this, he helped New England secure its sixth Super Bowl title, and third since he joined the team.
Gronkowski retires as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. The four-time All-Pro selection has the most 1,000-yard seasons by a tight end (four) and the most career postseason receiving touchdowns (12). His 79 career touchdown catches rank him third all-time among tight ends and his 297 yards receiving is the most in Super Bowl history. The five-time Pro Bowler finishes with 521 catches for 7,861 yards.
“From his rookie year until his final season and through countless times in between, Rob was a major reason why we won games and championships,” Belichick said in a statement. “His elite combination of size, skill, intelligence, toughness and ability to perform is pressure situations set him apart.”
Brady paid homage to Gronkowski’s role in the Patriots’ success in an Instagram post: