The New England Patriots suffered a huge loss on offense after Super Bowl LIII when future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, and they might have to deal with a similarly impactful exit this offseason.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's contract expires in March, at which point he would be able to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his 20-year NFL career.
Gronkowski thinks Brady deserves the chance to test the free agent market and see what kind of offers are available.
"I really haven't talked to Tom like that. I did talk to him, though, after the game, just talked, it wasn't even all about football," Gronkowski told reporters Tuesday in Miami, via NESN.com's Zack Cox. "Some of it was about life and all. I truly believe that he deserves the opportunity to go explore and see what's out there. He's been playing for so long. Just the way that he's been playing, the level he's been playing at, he definitely deserves an opportunity to go out there and test the market. Why wouldn't you? You've never done it before in your career.
"He's going to be a free agent for the first time ever. Good for him. Test out the market, and then do what's best for himself. That's the decision he has to make -- what's best for himself, what's best for his family, what he feels like he's going to love."
Would it be strange to see Brady in a non-Patriots jersey?
"It's always strange, no matter who the player is," Gronkowski said. "If you see a player play on a team for 10 years and then go to another team, it's always strange at first. Everyone gets used to it after a little bit. It would definitely be strange, I would say, if that happens, for a couple weeks it may be strange. Everyone adapts, like any other time it happens."
Brady has won a record six Super Bowl titles in New England since the team drafted him 199th overall in 2000. He's absolutely earned the right to see what rival teams are willing to offer him, but Grnnkowski is right: It would be strange to see him wearing a jersey in 2020 that doesn't say "Patriots" on it.