The Rob Gronkowski when-will-he-return rumor mill kicked back into high gear last week after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft noted the three-time Super Bowl champion hasn’t signed retirement papers.
While Kraft put it all out there, Tom Brady is staying more neutral, at least in media appearances, and indicated he won’t ask Gronk to come back to the field.
Brady won’t lobby for Gronk’s return
Though he could use the veteran back in his offense, Brady said on “The Greg Hill Show” Monday morning on WEEI that he wouldn’t lobby for the 30-year-old to return.
"I love that guy. I'm so happy that he's enjoying his time, his life. He seems to really be doing a lot of great things. He knows how I feel about him. I want what's best for him. He's the only person that can make those decisions. I don't lobby for those things."
The last opportunity for Gronkowski to be reinstated would be Dec. 6, before the Patriots’ 13th game of the season, per CBS Sports. The chitter-chatter will likely last until then.
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski together
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski together
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (R) celebrates his touchdown against the Denver Broncos with quarterback Tom Brady during the first quarter in their NFL AFC Divisional playoff game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, January 14, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski (L) celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady after scoring a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter of their NFL football game in Miami, Florida September 12, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 14: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (#87) is met by QB Tom Brady after his 1st touchdown in the 1st quarter - New England's 2nd touchdown. The New England Patriots play the Denver Broncos in the 2012 AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2011. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 24: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski celebrates his 6-yard touchdown reception with teammate Tom Brady during third quarter action against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 7: Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, left, and quarterback Tom Brady are pumped following their first quarter touchdown connection. The New England Patriots visited the Miami Dolphins for a season opening regular season NFL game at Sun Life Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 05: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Rob Gronkowski #87 after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 12: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots talks to Tom Brady #12 during a huddle during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 18: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady talks to teammate Rob Gronkowski after the game was in hand against the Indianapolis Colts during late fourth quarter action during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on January 18, 2015. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 1: The Patriots Rob Gronkowski, left, and quarterback Tom Brady celebrate together after they hooked up for a fourth quarter touchdown pass. The New England Patriots hosted the Denver Broncos in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Rob Gronkowski #87 (L) and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrate while holding up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Patriots defeated the Seahawks 28-24. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02: NFL players Tom Brady (L) and Rob Gronkowski attend the 141st Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Churchill Downs)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 25: Tom Brady #12 and Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots react after Gronkowski scored a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 15: Rob Gronkowski #87 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrate their fourth quarter touchdown against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on November 15, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 16: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with Rob Gronkowski after his touchdown in the third quarter. The New England Patriots host the Cincinnati Bengals in a regular season NFL football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Oct. 16, 2016. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots hugs Tom Brady #12 after the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BOSTON - FEBRUARY 7: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, left; head coach Bill Belichick, center; and Rob Gronkowski during the rally in City Hall Plaza following the Patriots Super Bowl LI Victory Parade in Boston on Feb. 7, 2017. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 3: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tackles teammate Rob Gronkowski after Gronkowski stole Brady's jersey at the mound for pregame ceremonies, where Brady threw out the first pitch, on Opening Day at Fenway Park in Boston on Apr. 3, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JUNE 13: New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski, left, takes a breather at the end of a drill as he walks near quarterback Tom Brady, right, during practice at the Gillette Stadium practice field in Foxborough, MA on Jun. 13, 2017. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FILE - In this Oct. 30, 2016, file photo, New England Patriots' Tom Brady (12), Rob Gronkowski (87) and James Develin (46) head back to the sideline after LeGarrette Blount scored a touchdown during the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. Gronkowski says he is retiring from the NFL after nine seasons. Gronkowski announced his decision via a post on Instagram Sunday, March 24, 2019, saying that a few months shy of this 30th birthday “its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile.” (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, top, tackles teammate Rob Gronkowski after he ran with Brady's recovered Super Bowl jersey as they joke around during Boston Red Sox Home Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Boston. The Red Sox face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the baseball game. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
FILE - In this Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates his touchdown pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Foxborough, Mass. The NFL’s top-ranked offense and top-rated defense are set to square off Sunday when the New England Patriots host the Carolina Panthers. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrates a touchdown, during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 52 football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
New England Patriots' Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski smile during Opening Night for the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Monday, Jan. 28, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Gronk in a different life phase, Brady says
Gronkowski gave the Patriots a Hall of Fame level career over his nine seasons with 15.1 average yards per catch, 79 touchdowns and four Super Bowl appearances. His retirement wasn’t much of a surprise and when he announced it, he cited the physical pounding of football.
It is unlikely he returns to the field, and Brady acknowledged his former teammate has shifted priorities.
"I have a great relationship with him. He has given actually a hell of a lot to our team already over the course of a long period of time, and I think people should be very appreciative for what he’s brought to the team and what he’s brought to the region. I think he’s a very special guy. He’s just in a different phase of his life.”
Gronkowski was hired as an analyst for Fox last week and debuted on Thursday night when the Patriots defeated the New York Giants. It was the same night Kraft sparked more speculation.