New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski could be playing in his final NFL game Sunday when the Pats host the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC Divisional Round at Gillette Stadium.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning that Gronkowski will "strongly consider retirement" whenever the Patriots' playoff run concludes.
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.
Gronkowski told reporters on Dec. 27 that he's "all-in" for 2018 and wasn't thinking about his future.
"I love the grind," Gronkowski said. "I'm all-in. I've been all-in all season. No matter if it's been up, if it's been down. I'm gonna tell you this right now: I'm gonna be all-in the rest of the year no matter what it is. That's just my main focus, no matter how it goes."
The 29-year-old veteran has battled many injuries throughout his career, and his physical, bruising style of play certainly doesn't bode well for him aging gracefully. He missed three games this season, two last season and eight during the 2016 campaign. Gronkowski hasn't played a full 16-game slate since his rookie and sophomore seasons.
Gronkowski caught 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season. He showed flashes of dominant play, most notably in the Patriots' thrilling 43-40 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6 and a Week 14 loss to the Miami Dolphins, but overall he was much more inconsistent compared to recent seasons.
Gronkowski was not on the injury report in the week entering Sunday's playoff game against the Chargers and played the final the seven games of the regular season. He was largely ineffective over the last three weeks, though, totaling four receptions for 45 yards and zero touchdowns in those games combined.
The Patriots will need a productive Gronkowski as both a pass-catcher and blocker Sunday against a very good Chargers defense.
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