Gronkowski Will Reunite With Brady in Tampa Bay

One of Tom Brady’s favorite receivers will come out of retirement to join the 20-year veteran quarterback on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected for 78 regular-season touchdowns and 12 more in playoff games, and will reunite in Tampa Bay. (AP file photo/Charles Krupa)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Four-time All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has agreed to a reunion with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.

The agent for the retired New England star confirmed Tuesday that pending completion of a physical Gronkowski has agreed to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are acquiring his rights from the Patriots.

A proposed trade that needs to be completed before this week’s NFL draft would bring Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for a fourth-round selection.

“Pending the physical, Rob has agreed to play for Tampa this season,” agent Drew Rosenhaus said.

The deal would reunite the 30-year-old Gronkowski with Brady, who signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Bucs in March.

Gronkowski, who’ll turn 31 on May 14, retired in March 2019 after nine seasons with the Patriots, who drafted him in the second round in 2010. He has one year left on his contract at $10 million.

“He will honor his current contract at this time,” Rosenhaus said.

In addition to 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in 115 regular-season games — 78 of them from Brady — the four-time Pro Bowl selection has another 81 catches for 1,163 yards and 12 TDs in 16 playoff games.

Even without the prospect of adding Gronkowski, the tight end position was considered one of Tampa Bay’s biggest strengths, with O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate teaming with Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to form the best collection of targets Brady has had to work with in more than a decade.

The Bucs are coming off a 7-9 finish and missed the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season in 2019. They haven’t won a postseason game since the franchise’s only Super Bowl championship 18 years ago.

Brady played in nine Super Bowls — winning six — in 20 seasons with the Patriots, who appeared in 13 AFC championship games and won 17 division titles while the three-time league MVP was their starting quarterback.

A few days after signing with the Bucs in free agency, Brady said he was impressed with a talented young roster Tampa Bay has assembled in recent years, and what he sensed is a commitment to do whatever necessary to be successful.

“I don’t want to get into every process to the decision I was making at the time, but there were a lot of things that really were intriguing to me about the organization — the players, and the coaches and the willingness of everyone to try to accomplish what the goal of playing football is, which is to win,” the four-time Super Bowl MVP said.

“I’m going to try to do everything I can in my position, and in what I am responsible for to make it happen,” Brady said. “I’ve got to trust that everyone else is doing the exact same thing. That part is no different from what I’ve experienced in 20 years of my own role.”

Gronkowski was an All-Pro in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017. He had 43 receptions for 682 yards and three TDs in 2018, his final season with the Patriots.

Without his favorite target, Brady had one of his worst noninjury seasons last year, throwing for 4,057 yards with 24 TDs and eight interceptions.

The Patriots, nevertheless, won 12 games and extended their string of consecutive playoff appearances to 11 before a sputtering offense contributed to a first-round loss to the Tennessee Titans.

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