Gronk hangs up his cleats for good

Gronk hangs up his cleats for good

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Gronk hangs up his cleats for good

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Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski became an annual retirement watch the last few years but most expected the 30-year-old Patriots star to hang on for at least one more season. That’s not going to happen. Gronk announced his retirement via Instagram on Sunday.

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. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.

He ends a  nine-year career that saw him break 1,000-receiving yards in four different seasons while also scoring more than ten touchdowns in five of his first six years.  Gronk was slowed by injuries over the last three years but still offered elite stats as recently as 2017.

Most notably, his 79 touchdowns rank No. 28 among all receivers and No. 3 for tight ends behind only Tony Gonzalez (111) and Antonio Gates (116).

His departure leaves a hole in the depth chart that won’t be filled by anyone currently on the roster – if that is even possible. The remaining tight ends are Jacob Hollister, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo, and Matt LaCosse. Anderson was undrafted in 2016 and played for the Texans. Hollister was an undrafted add by the Patriots two years ago but only caught eight passes. Izzo was a seventh-round pick last year and never played. Matt LaCosse is easily the most productive of the group with just 24 receptions with the Broncos last year.

The Patriots pursued Jared Cook in free agency and lost him to the Saints in part because Cook believed he had a more certain path to starting in New Orleans. The Patriots were already expected to mine the draft and free agency for wide receivers and now tight end is added to the list.

What this mostly means to Tom Brady is that he’ll have to rely on others and there’s no expectation that the Pats are going to find a “Gronk Clone” anytime soon, if ever. The Patriots are famous for making do with whatever they have on hand. The departure of Gronkowski doesn’t make the Pats any better but it may not make them any worse overall.

Mostly, it’s just a passing of one of the greatest fantasy tight ends of all time.

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