And some people close to him believe Gronkowski’s decision will go the other way.
The Patriots‘ long-time fixture is expected to weigh retirement once again, and he may be playing the final games of his likely Hall of Fame career. Just 29-years-old and financially set, Gronkowski nearly retired last season rather than be traded to the Lions and finish his career elsewhere.
He’s said that he wouldn’t catch passes from another QB not named Tom Brady and that is expected to hold. But this season, it’s been difficult to do that. Trying to handle bumps and bruises related to his ankle and back, Gronk is having his worst statistical season since his rookie year.
He has the fewest touchdowns (three) he’s ever had, the fewest 20-plus-yard catches (eight), the fewest yards per game (52.5 yards) since 2010. And opponents have mostly ceased double-teaming him.
While he’s feeling physically good going into today’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, those who know him well say the season has taken an emotional toll on him. Perhaps strongly considering retiring last year put him in a place where it was difficult to get fired up for this season.
Gronkowski hasn’t seemed to be the same effusive personality and people close to him say everything has been a battle. They wonder how much he loves it.
All of which may lead Gronk to say he’s accomplished enough in his career to move on to Hollywood or professional wrestling goals.
“It’s been more challenging,” Gronkowski said this season. “But it’s just a little more obstacles in the way. I mean, it’s life. You gotta take ’em on.”
Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.