Rob Gronkowski is, once again, walking away.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end announced Tuesday on Instagram that he will retire from the NFL after 11 seasons and one of the most prolific careers at his position.
“I will now be going back into my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field,” Gronkowski wrote in the post.
“The friendships and relationships I have made will last forever, and I appreciate every single one of my teammates and coaches for giving everything they had as well. From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now back to chilling out, thank you to all. Buccaneers 🏴☠️ fans, the Krewe, without you guys, none of this is possible, all of ya brought it every game, thank you for all you do.”
Gronkowski, 33, walks away from the game as one of — if not the best — tight ends in NFL history. He played 11 seasons in the league, nine of which were for the New England Patriots. In 143 regular-season games, he amassed 621 receptions for 9,286 yards and 92 touchdowns. His yardage total ranks fifth in NFL history among tight ends, and his touchdown total ranks third.
Gronkowski was also a huge weapon in the postseason, totaling 98 receptions for 1,389 yards and 15 touchdowns in 22 playoff games. His mark for postseason touchdown catches is second to only Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice’s 22.
A four-time All-Pro selection and five-time Pro Bowler, Gronkowski won four Super Bowls and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010s.
“Rob is a true professional who left it all on the field for us the past two seasons and helped establish a championship culture in our building,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “He played a crucial part in our Super Bowl LV championship season in 2020 and battled through a number of injuries last year while on the way to one of the most productive receiving yardage seasons in his 11-year career. It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game when he is still enjoying that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotions I feel today are gratitude and respect for one of the greatest tight ends who ever played the game.
“While his on-field accomplishments will surely earn him a gold jacket and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is his humble attitude and team-first approach to the game that truly defined his career.”
Gronkowksi was one of quarterback Tom Brady’s most trusted targets, building a rapport with Brady in New England before joining him in Tampa for 2020 and 2021. Gronkowski previously announced his retirement from the NFL in March 2019, skipping that season before returning to team up with Brady again.
In Brady and Gronkowski’s first season together in Tampa, the pair helped lead the Buccaneers to a 31-9 victory in Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Teammate, friend, brother, just a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Gronk,” Brady said in a statement. “Nobody has ever embodied the idea of ‘leaving it all out on the field’ like Rob has throughout his entire career. Every single snap, I knew that no matter how many people you put in front of him, he was going to get to his spot.
“Even more important is the person he was off the field. Focused when he had to be, and FUN the rest of the time. Having Gronk in your locker room was every NFL player’s dream. I’m proud of all that we’ve accomplished together, and even more excited for all you have ahead of you. Congrats Gronk, you deserve it.”
Gronkowski made his name at tight end as both an elite receiving threat — in particular inside the red zone — and as a physical, high-effort player who helped open spaces for his teammates in run and pass blocking. He also battled through several significant injuries over the course of his career and became a fan favorite, in part for his fun-loving, infectious spirit on the field and the powerful spikes of the footballs that accentuated the touchdowns he scored.