Bucs' Rob Gronkowski shares candid take about retirement dilemma

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Gronk's candid take on possible retirement makes sense in context originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Rob Gronkowski has played two full seasons since his first NFL retirement. So, what comes next: a third season or a second retirement?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end -- who's set to be a free agent in March -- made an honest admission Wednesday in an interview with TMZ Sports.

"If they’re like, 'Rob, you’ve got to decide right now, right this second if you’re playing next year,' I would say no right now," Gronkowski said. "It’s two days after the season. I’d be like, ‘No, I’m not playing!'"

Related: Gronk reflects on 2021 season, ponders return for 2022

That doesn't mean Gronk is ready to hang 'em up, though. The 32-year-old said he'll seriously evaluate his football future in about three-to-five weeks after his body has healed from a grueling season.

"You’ve got to give it some time," Gronkowski said. "You’ve got to rest to see how everything goes, to see how everything plays out, how I feel. I just want to heal completely and see where my thoughts are from there then.”

“... If I had to answer right now, it would (be) 'no.' But you never know. In three weeks, it might be 'yes.'"

Gronk's response shouldn't surprise those who followed his retirement from the New England Patriots after the 2018 season. That Super Bowl campaign took an immense toll on his body, and Gronkowski insisted he wasn't healthy enough to keep playing after a decade of on-field physical abuse.

A year of rest and the chance to team up with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay lured Gronk out of retirement in 2020, and he's still performing at a high level: The four-time All-Pro caught 55 passes for 802 yards with six touchdowns over 12 regular-season games in 2021.

But Gronkowski needs time to heal before deciding if he can run it back in 2022. Oh, and he also needs time to determine whether Brady -- his only primary quarterback over 11 seasons -- will continue playing.

"It will factor into the situation,” Gronkowski said of the possibility that Brady retires this offseason.