If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Tom Brady era weren’t already a media frenzy, let’s throw Rob Gronkowski into the mix, as a treat.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped the biggest news of draft week thus far, reporting that the Buccaneers will be sending a fourth-round pick to the New England Patriots for the formidable tight end, who took last year off.
Trade, pending physical: Patriots are trading TE Rob Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick to the Buccaneers for a fourth-round pick, source tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 21, 2020
NFL’s Ian Rapoport says his physical is taken, which should make an official announcement pretty close.
Gronkowski is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. However, lingering injuries and taking too many hard hits sent Gronk to an early retirement after the Patriots won Super Bowl 53.
But when Brady packed his bags and moved down to Tampa, a bunch of speculation kicked in about which former teammates and illustrious free agents would want to join him. The latter never materialized but the former came in strong today.
So Gronk is now out of retirement and is headed to the NFC South, where he’ll join an offense that boasts talents like WR Mike Evans, WR Chris Godwin, TE Cameron Brate, TE O.J. Howard and RB Ronald Jones II.
On paper, it’s intimidating, especially with offensive guru Bruce Arians overseeing things. On paper, it makes the Atlanta Falcons’ journey back to the top of the division all that harder. On paper, it makes a trade up for a player like Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons all the more appealing, who could cover Gronk and the rest of the league’s top tight ends.
But we’ve not reached the gridiron yet (if at all) for the new season, so don’t put all your eggs in the Bucs basket. They’re likely to be a better team than they were last year, but some feel as if Brady has been tapering off as he reaches 43, and Gronk hasn’t played since February 2019.
It’s certainly a great move for the Bucs to add a historically top-flight talent to its already-promising receiving core, and it’ll make the NFC South all the more competitive. Tampa Bay has the hype machine going loud and proud for it, but it is fair to wonder how much of that will translate on the field.
Just give it time. The Falcons have an entire draft and delayed second wave of free agency to make its defense better, and we won’t know the true effectiveness of any of this until football returns either this fall or in 2021.