Patriots

Patriots

We figured Tom Brady played a significant role in Rob Gronkowski unretiring to join his quarterback in Tampa Bay.

According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, though, we may have understated that role.

During an interview Thursday on ESPN's "NFL Live," Arians said the Bucs hadn't even considered Gronkowski an option until Brady came to them with an aggressive sales pitch.

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"It was really Tom,” Arians said, via ESPN.com. “Tom brought it up to me, and I didn’t even think it was a possibility that [Gronkowski] wanted to come back. And [Brady] was adamant about, yeah, he really wants to play; he’d love to play with us.

"So (Bucs general manager) Jason Licht got the ball rolling with the Patriots, the conversation was there, and he’s working out, he’s in great shape and he’s raring to go. So we’re really looking forward to getting on the practice field."

That may explain why Tampa Bay's trade with New England on April 21 seemingly came out of nowhere: The Bucs assumed Gronk was retired and assumed they'd roll with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate at tight end until Brady stepped in.

Gronkowski hasn't played in over a year after retiring following the 2018 season. He turns 31 next week and will have plenty of rust to shake off in 2020, especially with team facilities still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Then again, he caught 47 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns from Brady at age 29 (in just 13 games), so if anyone can get the most out of Gronk, it's his ride-or-die quarterback.