If there's anyone that might know what Tom Brady wants to do next, it's arguably his favorite target of all-time: Retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“Gronk” is enjoying retirement, telling Fox News Digital that he loves his role with FOX Sports as an NFL analyst. Being in that role, Gronkowski will certainly be peppered with questions about Brady's future as his contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is up after this season.
“I’ve talked to him a little bit. We’re just friends, we just love to talk and chat about things going on in life and all that stuff. I’m leaving his football troubles, I left them so I don’t have any football troubles. I’m leaving him all on his own,” Gronkowski said while promoting the Recycled Rides program from USAA, which gifted 100 vehicles this year in honor of their 100 years of service to the military community.
Not even Gronkowski knows for certain if Brady will play another season in the NFL. He's 45 years old and not having the most dominant season with the Bucs despite what we saw in the first two seasons in Tampa Bay, one of which included Gronkowski and Brady winning a Super Bowl.
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Still, speculation has already begun, with one of the teams interestingly enough being his former New England Patriots.
Though Mac Jones is the quarterback of the future up in Foxborough, Gronkowski is sure Robert Kraft & Co. will open their doors wide open to welcome Brady back if he so chooses.
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“I mean, if Tom really wanted to, I’m sure that it would be all open arms to go back to New England. I would just have to say all parties would need to want it,” Gronkowski said.
“But he has the opportunity to go wherever he would love to go. It’s Tom Brady. If he wanted to go back home to the San Francisco 49ers, I’m sure that would be open. If he wanted to go back home to the Patriots, I’m sure those doors would be open. If he 100% wants to stay in Tampa Bay, those doors would be wide open. It’s all on him.”
Gronkowski even joked that the “dark horse” for Brady could be to join the FOX Sports family, where he has the opportunity to join his former tight end as an analyst if he wishes to retire and move to the media side of the business.
But Brady isn't thinking about retirement right now, as Gronkowski well knows. Despite a 6-7 record, the Bucs are still at the top of the woeful NFC South division.
“I think they 100% make the playoffs,” Gronkowski said of his former team. “I mean, they would have to have a pretty awful run and lose their division games coming up in order not to make the playoffs. I see them making the playoffs for sure, and I think they can be the scariest team in the playoffs.”
Playoff Brady is a monster on his own, but there hasn't been any signs of that monster awakening with the playoffs so close. The Bucs have had issues specifically on offense, but Gronkowski knows how to correct them.
It's quite simple but it's effective.
“They got to fix the O-line problems,” he said. “They’ve been having so many injuries there, so many guys rotating. So that’s really tough. A team starts with the offensive line. You got to be able to run the ball and also protect your quarterback when passing. That’s where it all starts, and hopefully they get a couple guys back before the playoffs start so they’re strong in that aspect of the game.”
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Gronkowski added that one of the skill players on the team needs to break out heading into the playoffs, whether it be receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin or Julio Jones. “Playoff Lenny,” running back Leonard Fournette, has been battling injuries and hasn't had the impact we're used to seeing since Brady arrived in Tampa.
No matter the case, winning another ring is on Brady's mind. Then, he can think about his future.
And no, don't expect Gronkowski to be summoned by Brady for another playoff run. He's content where he is now.
“Retirement is retirement this time. It feels good man,” he said.
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Gronkowski was able to gift the 87th recycled ride for USAA, paying homage to his jersey number during his playing days. Jonny Flores, a Purple Heart recipient while serving with the United States Army received the truck from Gronkowski.
Flores was hit was an IED on July 4, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq and has left him wheelchair bound.
Gifting Flores the vehicle, which is completely wheelchair compatible was an honor for Gronkowski.
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“There is nothing like seeing his reaction in person knowing that the trust is going to give him the freedom to get around on his own, increase his mobility and continue helping other vets in his community,” Gronkowski said.