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Rob Gronkowski Struggles Explained: Tight End Injured, "Tired" Of The Patriot Way

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is enduring the most unproductive season of his Hall of Fame career thus far, and fans continue to wonder just what the problem is for No. 87.

Gronkowski pondered retirement in the offseason and admitted that he nixed a trade to the Detroit Lions, informing the Patriots he didn't want to play for any other team. But yet, the 29-year-old superstar hasn't been able to produce much this season. Gronk only has 12 catches over his last four games and two touchdowns on the season.

According to ESPN's Jeff Darlington (h/t Ryan Hannable of WEEI), Gronkowski is still injured and apparently remains dissatisfied with the tight ship being ran in Foxborough:

"Gronkowski is still dealing with back and ankle injuries. He was eventually taken off the injury report this week, but after speaking with several sources this is still something to watch when it comes to Gronkowski down the stretch.

I am told Gronkowski is still dealing with some hardships when it comes to dealing with the rigors of The Patriot Way and the rigors and the beating that his body is taking."

That would simply explain why Gronkowski has gone from unstoppable force to largely unproductive in 2018. If it's mental fatigue and exhaustion, it's easy to understand why Gronk hasn't been producing at his Pro Bowl-like form.

RELATED: ROB GRONKOWSKI RUMORED TO RETIRE AT END OF SEASON

Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

He's missed three games this season with the aforementioned ankle and back injuries, which also explains why Gronk has struggled. He's not getting much separation from opposing defensive backs, and Gronk simply hasn't been able to get open in the end zone - where he's thrived most.

With a long injury history and the belief he's been unhappy in Foxborough for a while, it's not crazy to think Gronkowski could retire after this season. It didn't help matters when the team refused to give him a contract extension - only adding potential incentives that he's not going to meet this season.

What This Means

If Gronkowski doesn't turn it around down the stretch, it's fair to say this will be his last season in New England. That could either mean retirement, or the team trading the Pro Bowl tight end. But if he's still unhappy with the way things are ran there, it's hard to see Gronkowski coming back to Foxborough in 2019.

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