PHOENIX -- Rob Gronkowski's retirement officially hit the league's wire on Tuesday. 

What does that mean? 

Gronkowski was placed on the reserve/retired, where players land if they opt to retire rather than finish out their contracts. It's a procedural move that takes the player off of the active roster — which at the moment is capped at 90 players — and takes a player's salary cap hit off the books as though he's been released for cap purposes. 

The Patriots will carry $2 million of Gronkowski's 2019 earnings as dead money, but they will save over $9 million in cap dollars. Those cap dollars have now been freed up, giving the Patriots over $17.5 million in cap space.

Gronkowski's rights will continue to be held by the Patriots in his retirement. If he decided he wanted to come back, his cap number would be determined by the number of weeks and games left in the 2019 season. Here's how Miguel Benzan explains it on . . .

If Gronk decides to unretire during the regular season his cap number would be $9 million (his base salary) divided by 17 (the number of weeks in the regular season) times the number of weeks remaining in the season plus $46,875 times the remaining number of games. So let’s say Gronk unretires with nine weeks and nine games remaining in the season. His salary would then be $4,764,706 and his cap number would be $5,186,581.

Asked on Tuesday if he had any inkling Gronkowski might retire, Bill Belichick said, "Offseason's the offseason."


With the majority of Gronkowski's cap figure officially coming off the books, Belichick and his front office can adjust their offseason plans accordingly.

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