The Tampa Bay Buccaneers solidified Florida’s position as America’s retirement home this offseason; signing two elder statesmen of the former New England Patriots dynasty Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Tampa Bay signed Brady on March 20, and one month later the team announced they’d managed to lure Gronkowski away from retired life. This naturally lead to the speculation that responsibility for Gronk’s return belonged to Brady; but he never officially confirmed this.
Appearing on The Ellen Show he admitted Brady helped, but finally opened up about the main reason for his return.
“Tom was like the appetizer, and then there’s a few other reasons. I love the weather,” he said.
“But the main course, the main reason why I came down to Tampa to play is because my mother live two hours away. She can get to all the games, all eight of our home games. Whenever I have days off, she’s two hours down the street and I get to see her. So she’s super excited.”
“I just feel like my body needed a little rest. I wasn’t sure if I was really going to get back into football at the time, but my body healed up,” he said. “I feel rejuvenated. My energy is back. I’m super excited to get back on the field and I feel like I’m ready to go.”
Setting the Stage
The pair have combined for 400 games over their NFL careers, winning three Super Bowl together from 2010-18.
While the signing of Brady was big news in southern Florida, it wasn’t exactly out of the blue. At 42-years-old on an expiring contract and following up one of the least productive seasons of his career; Brady and the Patriots finally parted ways, but Brady wasn’t done.
While Tampa Bay hasn’t had nearly the pedigree of success in recent history that Brady is accustomed to there are multiple reasons the move makes sense; namely an available starting job and explosive weapons in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to work with.
Less expected however was the acquisition of Gronkowski; who’d already retired in March of 2019 and seemed to be diving head first into life after football. He involved himself the entertainment industry with WWE and appearing on The Masked Singer; and even won the WWE 24/7 championship.
But with a year off and posting solid numbers (682 yards, 3 touchdowns) in his last season with the Patriots; he decided he had enough gas in the tank for at least one more season.
Gronkowski retired with one season worth $10 million remaining on his final contract with New England.
As a result, the Patriots actually had to trade their un-retired tight end in order for him to join the Buccaneers; gaining a fourth round pick in the 2020 draft in exchange for Gronk and a seventh round pick.
After the trade the Buccaneers had added two pieces that “developed the type of chemistry on and off the field that is crucial to success,” said Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht.
“Rob combines elite-level skills as both a receiver and blocker but what really makes him special is the fact that he’s a proven winner who brings that championship mindset and work ethic.”
The Buccaneers are in the midst of a 12-year division title drought; but have brought in the perfect combination to instill a culture of success for many years to come.