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Bucs not ruling out Rob Gronkowski’s return

When Tom Brady stayed on with the Bucs, he received a $20 million signing bonus. Will his retirement impact the $15 million he was set to receive on Feb. 4?

Tom Brady’s retirement announcement Tuesday led to obvious speculation that tight end Rob Gronkowski also will call it quits. Gronkowski sat out 2019 before returning to join Brady in Tampa in 2020.

If Gronkowski also retires, he will join Brady in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2027.

But the Buccaneers are holding out hope Gronkowski will come back to the team for 2022 even without Brady as his quarterback. Gronkowski didn’t rule it out after the divisional round loss to the Rams.

Tampa Bay signed Gronkowski to a one-year, $8 million contract last offseason that carried void years, so he will be a free agent in March.

“I think that’s yet to be seen,” Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht said Tuesday night. “I’m giving Rob the respect to give him some time to see how he feels here in the next coming of weeks after a long, grueling season. When you played in the league for 11 years, you need a little time to think things through to see if you want to go through with it for another year. From my conversations with Rob, he just needs that. I don’t think it’s going to be dependent on whether Tom came back or not from what I understand, and I know that Rob had an incredible experience here as well. He was a big factor in us having the success that we had. We would welcome Rob back with open arms, but we’re giving him his space right now to decide on what he wants to do.”