Patriots

Is Rob Gronkowski considering retirement?

Is Rob Gronkowski considering retirement?

MINNEAPOLIS -- The tweet, published by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio well in advance of Stephen Gostkowski's opening kickoff to Super Bowl LII, was presented as a "99 percent wild guess." But Florio may have been doing some informed guessing on Rob Gronkowski's future. 

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"It would not shock me at all," Florio wrote, "if Gronk retires after tonight's game."

After Gronkowski posted a nine-catch, 116-yard, two-touchdown performance in his team's 41-33 loss to the Eagles, he was asked if there was any truth to the suggestion that he may hang 'em up after this season.

“I don’t know how you heard that," he replied, "but I’m definitely going to look at my future, for sure. I'm going to sit down the next couple weeks and see where I'm at."

Gronkowski is still one of the most dominant offensive weapons in football -- as his four-catch, 68-yard showing on the first drive of the second half proved -- but he's been through a great deal health-wise over the course of the last eight seasons. He suffered a high-ankle sprain that slowed him in a Super Bowl loss to the Giants six years ago. He broke his forearm, and then re-broke it, in 2012. In 2013, his season was ended prematurely due to a torn ACL. In 2016, he needed season-ending back surgery, and he suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit in the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago. 

When asked if concussions factored into his thinking, Gronkowski scratched his head and said "no."

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Gronkowski turns 29 in May, and the five-time Pro Bowl tight end would go down as one of the greatest to play the position if he walked away at this point. He has been smart with his money, by all accounts, and claims to have been living off of endorsement money while putting his yearly salary away as each game check has rolled in. 

This season, Gronkowski earned himself the ultimate pay bump by more than doubling his salary with his performance. His heavily incentive-laden contract jumped from $5.25 million to the maximum of $10.75 million thanks to his being named a first-team All-Pro after the season. 

Gronkowski has been open about his changing off-the-field habits, and he has worked more closely with Tom Brady's business partner and "body coach" Alex Guerrero since his last back surgery. 

He looks as strong as ever, cutting up one of the best defenses in football on the game's biggest stage Sunday. And the emotions of a loss in the Super Bowl could have impacted his postgame statements. But it sounds as though he's not yet fully committed to playing in 2018. 

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Gronkowski still has two years remaining on his contract. He's scheduled to make $8 and $9 million in base salary in each of the next two seasons. His cap hits in those seasons are $10.9 and $12 million, respectively. 

When pressed further about the possibility of retirement, Gronkowski shook his head. 

"I'm not ready for these type of questions right now," he said. "Just gonna sit down, reflect on the season. Talk to my teammates. We fought all year long. All the receivers, running backs, linemen. We put all the work in together. I'm just gonna reflect on the season, proud of the boys. See what happens . . . 

"We just lost. I just want to sit back, relax the next couple weeks. I really have got nothing to say about that right now."

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Awesome NFL video highlights all 36 turnovers forced by Patriots defense in 2019

Awesome NFL video highlights all 36 turnovers forced by Patriots defense in 2019

The New England Patriots defense ranked among the NFL's best in 2019, and a huge reason for this unit's success was its ability to force turnovers.

The Patriots forced the second-most turnovers in the league with 36 during the regular season. They also led the league with 25 interceptions and a plus-21 turnover differential. Veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore tied for the league lead with six interceptions and was named AP Defensive Player of the Year.

It's safe to say the Patriots defense was aggressive and opportunistic throughout 2019, and it certainly helped overcome some of the team's offensive struggles during the second half of the campaign.

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Check out all of the turnovers forced by New England's defense last season in the video below:

The Patriots' Super Bowl title defense ended surprisingly early with an AFC Wild Card loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. The defense played pretty well, holding the Titans to just 13 offensive points. Tom Brady and his offense couldn't generate much of anything versus the Titans defense, though, and the Patriots lost 20-13.

New England's defense could look much different in 2020. The unit has several key players eligible for unrestricted free agency, including safety Devin McCourty, linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy, and defensive tackle Danny Shelton, among others.

Curran: Where things stand for Brady, Pats a month from free agency

Chris Simms' Tom Brady-Ryan Tannehill take may grind Patriots fans' gears

Chris Simms' Tom Brady-Ryan Tannehill take may grind Patriots fans' gears

We can understand Derrick Henry supporting Ryan Tannehill amid speculation that Tom Brady may consider joining to the Tennessee Titans.

Tannehill is Henry's quarterback, after all. He's not going to throw him under the bus.

But Chris Simms has no stake in the game -- and still believes the Titans would be better off with Tannehill than the six-time Super Bowl champion in 2020.

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Here's Simms on Wednesday's edition of NBC Sports PFT Live with Mike Florio:

 

"Everybody out there: You're crazy!" Simms said. "Tom Brady is not better than Ryan Tannehill right now! I'm just sorry! 

"I know Tom Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback ever, certainly the most accomplished. (He's) the man. But that doesn't mean he's the best in 2020."

Simms didn't stop there, suggesting the Titans may not have defeated the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round if Brady was under center instead of Tannehill.

"The Titans weren't a team that had weapons galore," Simms said "They didn't have great weapons (either). We didn't really know about A.J. Brown until Ryan Tannehill got in there."

Got all that, Patriots fans?

This kind of take is nothing new from Simms, who ranked Brady as the NFL's ninth-best quarterback last summer and put Matthew Stafford ahead of the 14-time Pro Bowler at the midseason point.

He's also not wrong that Tannehill was excellent last season, leading the NFL in yards per attempt (9.6) and ranking second in touchdown percentage (7.7 percent) while going 7-3 as Tennessee's starter.

But 10 starts do not an elite quarterback make -- especially a QB who had the NFL's 2019 leading rusher (Henry) taking the heat off him.

Were Brady's numbers worse than Tannehill's in 2019? Sure. His 6.6 yards per attempt were the second-lowest of his career, while his 3.9 touchdown percentage represented his lowest rate ever.

As Patriots fans will tell you, though, Brady also helped a team with a revolving door of mediocre offensive weapons score the seventh-most points in the NFL while finishing 12-4.

All debates aside, the money could prove Brady's worth compared to Tannehill: The former may command north of $30 million in free agency, while the latter might be several million below that number.

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