Gronkowski hasn’t “thought about” a 2019 return

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Retired Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has talked on multiple occasions about possibly returning to football. In a new interview with John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, Gronk makes it clear that the door hasn’t closed.

“[M]aybe, one day, if I’m missing the game and I feel I need to play, then I’ll go do it,” Gronkowski said. “But that’s what I love about it, is I have the option to be able to go back and play. Which is great. That’s what I love. Having the option to be able to go back and play.”

Gronkowski said that Patriots owner Robert Kraft has made it clear that Gronkowski is welcome to return whenever he wants. So could he return this season?

“Let’s put it this way,” Gronkowski said. “I just really haven’t thought about it. Like I said, I love that I have the option, but I haven’t thought about going back at all. I’m really busy with what I have going on. I have a lot going on. I don’t really see myself at all. But it’s always just good, like I said, to have the option. If it’s this year, next year, or even in four years, I feel like it’s just great to have [the option].”

He seems to think that the option would disappear if he files retirement paperwork, which is inaccurate for two reasons. First, retired players no longer file retirement paperwork. Second, the filing of retirement paperwork was never an impediment to returning.

For 2019, one very important impediment to returning exists: He must return to the Patriots’ active roster by the Tuesday after Week 13, or he’d have to clear waivers first. That means he has 33 days to emerge from the reserve/retired list and rejoin the Patriots. Otherwise, he could end up with the Dolphins or the Bengals or any other team lower that would put in a claim for his contract.