The New England Patriots lost a generational talent this offseason when tight end Rob Gronkowski decided to retire. But in the aftermath of his retirement, Robert Kraft had an important message for him.

As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport outlined in a recent story, when Gronkowski was cleaning out his locker after his retirement announcement, Kraft told Gronk that he wants the tight end to return for a playoff run. Here's what Rapoport said about their exchange:

Kraft told Gronkowski that he wants him to return for November, December, and a playoff run. If that happened, the team not only would welcome him back but would remain hopeful that it happens.

Time is running out for Gronk to make a return. According to the rules, the last day for Gronkowski and the team to agree to grant him an official return to the roster would be Saturday, Nov. 30 -- the day before the team's Week 13 game.

Of course, it's worth noting that this conversation happened a while ago. So, while this isn't new, it does confirm that the Patriots have an open-door policy for Gronkowski should he decide to return.

It makes sense that the Patriots would want Gronk back. With him gone, the team has gotten very little production out of the tight end position. Gronkowski would immediately become a top weapon in the Patriots offense -- if he's game-ready -- and Tom Brady would surely appreciate his presence.


Still, by all indications, Gronkowski isn't planning on unretiring. Perhaps he'll have a change of heart, but the Patriots shouldn't be counting on it and they don't appear to be.

We'll still keep an eye on the Nov. 30 deadline just in case. But in all likelihood, Gronkowski will remain retired and the Patriots will have to find another solution to help improve their offense. They currently have three players available at the position in Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse, and Ryan Izzo so perhaps one can become a productive weapon down the stretch.

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