The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off one of the twists of the NFL offseason with their acquisition of Rob Gronkowski, and the driving force behind the deal wasn’t a surprise.
According to Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, it was Tom Brady telling the team that Gronkowski was interested in coming out of retirement and pushing for a trade with the New England Patriots.
“It was really Tom,” Arians told ESPN’s NFL Live on Thursday. “Tom brought it up to me, and I didn’t even think it was a possibility that [Gronkowski] wanted to come back. And [Brady] was adamant about, yeah, he really wants to play; he’d love to play with us. So [general manager] Jason Licht got the ball rolling with the Patriots, the conversation was there, and he’s working out, he’s in great shape and he’s raring to go. So we’re really looking forward to getting on the practice field.”
That push would have come after Brady’s workout with Gronkowski earlier in the offseason, when the tight end told the then-free agent he was interested in returning to the field.
A few weeks after Brady joined the Buccaneers (and after Gronkowski had possibly taken a look at the Bucs' playbook), the Buccaneers put together a trade that sent a fourth-round pick to New England in exchange for Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick.
Gronkowski apparently shouldn’t have much trouble getting into playing shape, as he said he was already at 250 pounds last month. He has been open about how the physical punishment of the NFL led to his retirement, and that his year of rest should be helpful.
The addition of Gronkowski should give Brady an enviable collection of weapons in Arians’ offense.
Alongside possibly the most talented tight end in NFL history will be Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, 2017 first-round tight end O.J. Howard and a running back tandem of 2018 second-rounder Ronald Jones and 2020 third-rounder Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
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