New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski decided to suit up for the 2018 season, despite a boatload of reports that suggested the 29-year-old wanted to retire due to a long series of injuries and friction with head coach Bill Belichick.
But even though Gronkowski opted to come back for at least one more year, it sounds like there's a good chance that 2018 will be his last in the NFL after all. He's been hampered by nagging back and leg injuries and has just 29 catches for 448 yards and one touchdown in seven games.
Mike Florio of Pro Football talk appeared on NFL Sunday (h/t Ryan Hannable of WEEI Radio), and explained why Gronkowski could retire after this year. Florio pointed out that it "implies a lot" that Gronk hinted at retirement after the team lost Super Bowl 52 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
After that, Florio explained that Gronkowski won't reach the incentives that would net him a bigger pay day this season, which could impact his decision this offseason:
"I think if the Patriots had won the Super Bowl he would have retired. And I think after this season, which has been very disappointing for him and it is his second straight year with a significant incentive package that we’re probably close to saying he’s not going to hit any of the four markers which each make him $1.1 million and he can make a maximum of $3.3 million that way...
I think that will be a factor in his ultimate decision and the fact he had a chance to play somewhere else and didn’t want to, I think there’s a good chance he just walks away after this year unless the Patriots are willing to rip up the last year of that contract and give him some form of security that is not tied to being healthy and producing on the field."
Gronkowski has already missed three games this season, and a long list of injuries could also force him into retirement. He's not even 30 yet, but Gronkowski has already suffered two broken forearms, a torn ACL, a concussion, a herniated disk, a high ankle sprain and various leg/back injuries that forced him to miss games in 2015, 2017 and now 2018.
It was also reported that Gronkowski was about to be traded to the Detroit Lions in the offseason. However, Gronk went to the front office and told the Patriots he would retire - emphasizing that he didn't want to play for any other team - if a trade were to happen.
Gronkowski was enduring an unproductive season (for his standards), before the injuries began to pile up. And if he's not going to land the incentives for a bigger pay day in 2018, then there's good reason for him to consider retirement.