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.
"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."
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.
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."