Gronkowski Retires, What’s Next for the Pats?
March 24 was a sad day for Patriots fans across the country, as Patriot great Rob 'Gronk' Gronkowski retired from football. Gronkowski announced his retirement on an instagram post Sunday afternoon. For what has already been an eventful offseason for the Patriots, the Gronkowski retirement added to it.
Gronkowski has been an instrumental piece of the Patriots dynasty for nine years. Helped the patriots to three super bowl victories and five appearances in that span. Gronkowski also battled many injuries during his career. Built like a beast but injury prone. When Gronkowski was drafted by the Patriots in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, he was recovering from back surgery and it was a bold move by the Patriots to draft him that high. The results show that the Patriots made the right move as he became a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.
Gronkowski’s Career Stats
Gronkowski’s stats do all the talking. In his rookie year he made an instant impact with 42 receptions for 546 yards and 10 touchdowns. His second year he almost tripled his receiving yards with 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns, which he helped the Patriots get to the Super Bowl where they lost a nail biter to the Giants. In 2012 he caught 55 passes for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns. This is where Gronkowski started a series of injuries starting with a hip pull at the beginning of the season, then an arm fracture that kept him out of five games. In 2013 the injuries continued with a concussion and another arm fracture. He still caught 39 passes for 592 yards and four touchdowns. In 2014 he was able to stay healthy for the whole year where he caught 82 passes for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. He helped the Patriots to another Super Bowl where he helped Tom Brady lead a second half comeback against the Seahawks to clinch another Super Bowl Victory; Gronkowski’s first Super Bowl victory.
In 2015 Gronkowski had another productive year catching 72 passes for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns. 2016 was an injury plagued season for Gronkowski as he had a chest bruise, hamstring pull, and a back injury that he got surgery for in december of that year. He still caught 25 passes for 540 yards and three touchdowns. That year the patriots made it to another Super Bowl and had an historical comeback against the Falcons and won in an overtime thriller. Twenty-seventeen Gronkowski came back and made a big impact. He caught 69 passes for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns. The Patriots made it to their second consecutive Super Bowl, but lost in a shootout to the Eagles. In 2018 (Gronk’s last year) Gronkowski had a concussion with back and ankle issues. He missed a total of three games. Gronkowski caught 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns. He helped the Patriots get to their third straight Super Bowl where they beat the Rams in a defensive stalemate. He caught a few key passes in the fourth quarter to get the Patriots to the goal line where they scored the game’s first and only touchdown on a goal line run by rookie Sony Michel.
In total Rob Gronkowski caught 521 passes for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns.
Gronkowski’s Notable Records
Gronkowski finished with arguably the most efficient stat of any tight end and that is averaging a touchdown every 6.6 catches. Gronkowski holds many records including notable records as follows:
- Only tight end in NFL history to lead the league in receiving touchdowns
- Only tight end with 1,000 plus receiving yards in the playoffs
- Most receiving touchdowns in a season by a tight end with 18 (including playoffs)
- Most playoff receiving touchdowns by a tight end with 12
- Tied with most touchdowns in first two seasons by any receiver with Randy Moss with 28
- For full list of his records go to https://cbsloc.al/2U3fQ1H
Where do the Patriots go from here?
Rob Gronkowski is a generational tight end that can’t be replaced. The Patriots will feel his lack of presence on the field and history without Gronkowski has hurt the Patriots in the past. It will surely be a difficult season next year. Tom Brady lost his big bodied red zone target and bail out receiver on third downs. The Patriots may draft another tight end in this years draft. Notable tight end prospects T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant out of Iowa are good targets for the Patriots to invest in. Both tight ends have the full package and will find success on any team they play for. Irv Smith Jr. out of Alabama would also be another option.
The Patriots will have to tweak their offense moving on. Expect them to help out Tom Brady by utilizing the running game more with Sony Michel. The Patriots leaned on him throughout the playoffs and the Super Bowl. This doesn’t mean however that the Patriots are going to lose a number of games in his absence; they are the best team in the NFL at replacing talent and reloading year after year. Gronkowski will be missed and he was a huge Part of the Patriots revamped dynasty, but the Patriots will find other players to keep winning.
Even though Rob Gronkowski has hung up his cleats for the year and announced his retirement, he incited that it may not be forever. Stating that he may come back next year if it feels right to. Jason Witten is a notable tight end that is coming back for another year after hanging up his cleats for a year. It will be interesting to see what Gronkowski will do next.
Trent Fye is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism, to contact him, email email@example.com.