Patriots trading Rob Gronkowski to Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in shocking return

Patriots trading Rob Gronkowski to Tom Brady’s Buccaneers in shocking return

Rob Gronkowski is returning to his old quarterback, not his old team.

In a shocking move Tuesday, the New England Patriots traded Gronkowski to the Buccaneers, along with a seventh-round pick in this week’s draft, for a fourth-rounder, according to ESPN.

The deal came together after Gronkowski alerted the Patriots he wanted to return to the NFL to play with Tom Brady in Tampa. Gronkowski told Fox Sports he already took a physical with the Buccaneers, which was the only hurdle remaining.

Gronkowski, 30, retired before last season and the Patriots’ offense saw a precipitous falloff without the star tight end as one of the focal points. Gronkowski had one year and $10 million left on his Patriots contract.

Gronkowski has been coy about his future in his year out of the league, but had refused to close the door on an NFL return.

“I’m feeling good right now,” Gronkowski said this week on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.”

“I’m happy where I’m at. You just never know, man. You just never know. You never know. I’m not totally done.”

Gronkowski has tried a bit of everything from a partnership with a CBD oil company to a widely-publicized Super Bowl party to a hosting role with WWE at WrestleMania.

Now, he is returning to the NFL and to the quarterback he played nine seasons with, including three Super Bowl victories. Gronkowski had 521 catches for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns before stepping away after the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl title victory against the Rams.

Gronkowski was significantly slowed with various injuries that last season, though, with his numbers dropping significantly. The Patriots seemingly only turned to Gronkowski for the biggest moments after spending most of the games as a decoy.

Brady, who will be 43 by the start of next next season, signed a two-year, fully guaranteed $50 million contract with Tampa Bay this offseason. The Buccaneers have been rumored to be shopping their current starting tight end O.J. Howard and could potentially flip him before Thursday’s draft, which would leave an opening for Gronkowski.

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