Patriots

Patriots' Rob Gronkowski announces retirement with heartfelt Instagram post

Patriots' Rob Gronkowski announces retirement with heartfelt Instagram post

The Rob Gronkowski era has officially come to an end.

With an emotional post on Instagram, Gronk announced his retirement.

View this post on Instagram

It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.

A post shared by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on

Gronkowski's decision to retire doesn't come as a surprise. Injuries have plagued the Patriots tight end over the course of his career, and he recently opened up about the toll those injuries have taken on him.

Gronk finishes his career with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. Oh, and three Super Bowl titles to boot.

Next stop, Canton.

More to come. . .

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Bill Belichick shares amusing story about Rob Gronkowski after he makes NFL's All-Time team

Bill Belichick shares amusing story about Rob Gronkowski after he makes NFL's All-Time team

The New England Patriots selected Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Little did they know that at the time that he would go on to become arguably the greatest tight end ever.

Over the course of his nine-year career with the Patriots, Gronkowski recorded 521 catches for 7,861 yards and a whopping 80 total touchdowns. He established himself as one of the best pass-catchers in the league and for a time, it seemed impossible for opposing defenses to tackle him.

Gronkowski is a shoo-in to be nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was named to the NFL's All-Time team on Friday night. However, despite these honors, it wasn't always certain that he would be a success.

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As Bill Belichick detailed on the All-Time team special, Gronkowski was more of a "shot in the dark" than anything else, especially after a comically bad pre-draft visit.

"Rob was kind of a shot in the dark," Belichick said. "He came up on his pre-draft visit and had a bad visit. We put him in a room. Came back. He was asleep on the floor. He didn't make a very good impression."

Here's a look at Belichick's full story, via the NFL's official Twitter account.

Despite this, Belichick and the Patriots liked Gronkowski's skill set enough to trade up and select him in the second round of the draft. And it's safe to say that the decision paid off, as Gronk helped them to win three Super Bowls.

Gronkowski wasn't the only member of the Patriots to join the NFL's All-Time team on Friday. Offensive lineman John Hannah made the cut as well.

Hannah, a Hall of Famer, played in 183 games (all starts) at the guard position over the course of 13 years with the Patriots. He made seven All-Pro first-teams and nine Pro Bowls during his career.

Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

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USA TODAY Sports

Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots' rare instability at kicker has forced them to get creative.

The Patriots raised a few eyebrows Wednesday by signing Josh Gable -- a "YouTube star" with no college football kicking experience best known for his trick shot videos -- to their practice squad.

Gable's tenure in New England was short-lived, as the Patriots released him Friday.

So, why use a practice squad spot on a kicker only to cut him two days later?

"We had a spot available on the practice squad, and it gave us an opportunity to look at a younger kicker," head coach Bill Belichick said Friday.

" ... Rather than just (have him) come in and do a workout, we were actually able to (have him) kick with the team and put him on the practice squad for a couple days."

Belichick said the Patriots have no plans to move away from Nick Folk as their starting kicker this season. 

But getting Gable in for essentially a multi-day tryout allowed New England to explore a potential kicking option for 2020.

"We'll worry about that next year," Belichick said. " ... Put that in the bank, and maybe it comes up later on at some point in time down the road. Maybe it doesn’t. I’m not sure."

Such is the reality for the Patriots, who lost Stephen Gostkowski to season-ending hip surgery in October and have cycled through Mike Nugent, Kai Forbath, Folk and Younghoe Koo (practice squad) since.

Gostkowski turns 36 in January and is entering the final year of his contract, so Belichick has good reason to get a head start on contingency kicking options for 2020.

That's assuming New England doesn't stick with Folk: The veteran has been the most consistent of Gostkowski's replacements this season, connecting on eight of 11 field goals and making all four of his extra-point attempts.

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