Free-agent tight end Rob Gronkowski once said he'd never play without Tom Brady as his quarterback. Now that Brady has unretired to rejoin the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Gronkowski says he's not sure he'll play this season.
"Right now, I'm not ready to get back out on that field," Gronkowski told TMZ Sports. "I'm not ready to commit to the game of football right now."
The 32-year-old four-time All-Pro had 55 catches for 802 yards with six touchdowns in his second season with the Bucs, despite missing five games because of back spasms, cracked ribs and a punctured lung.
Shortly after Tampa Bay was eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, Gronkowski said if he had to make a decision then, he would not return for the 2022 season.
Although he still says he's not ready to play, Gronkowski seems less adamant and told TMZ Sports that at a recent charity event he made sure he was throwing passes and not catching them.
"I knew if I started catching some passes that my head would have started turning, like, 'Oh, crap, I got to get back out on the field,'" Gronkowski said.
"Even in your 30s, I mean, you just can't just slack it and just be 50% all-in, then you're going to get caught off with the game and it's going to just spit you right out," Gronkowski said. "You've got to be fully dedicated. I'm not ready to do that yet, I'm not going to sign a contract if I'm not fully ready."
Gronkowski previously retired after the 2018 season, sitting out 2019, before agreeing to return to football and accepting a trade to Tampa Bay to again team up with Brady. Which is why he wasn't surprised to see the future Hall of Fame quarterback return to the Buccaneers, even if it came sooner than Gronkowski expected.
"I knew he was going to come back, but I didn't think he was going to come back this year, to tell you the truth," Gronkowski said. "I thought he was going to come back in a year, spend some time with his family."
Though Gronkowski is still undecided on how much he has left, he spoke glowingly about where Brady is at.
"He's not done, man, let me tell you," Gronkowski said. "The guy's 44 and, let me tell you, he doesn't look a day over 23 when he's throwing the football around."