Rob Gronkowski is leaning towards returning to the New England Patriots in 2018 instead of an early retirement, despite physical and mental fatigue and lingering frustrations between he and head coach Bill Belichick, according to an ESPN report.
Citing unnamed sources, the report says the Patriots tight end -- though yet to make a final decision -- is "pretty certain" he'll come back as long as quarterback Tom Brady remains with the Patriots.
It adds, however, that Gronkowski and has grown weary of dealing with injuries and the high-strung culture fostered by Belichick and the Patriots organization. Likewise, the report continues, Belichick has expressed frustration to those close to him about whether Gronkowski is still "all-in" for the team.
Last season, Gronkowski, 28, had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in 14 games. He has dealt with a variety of injuries throughout his eight-year career, missing two games last season with minor ailments.
While his rift with Belichick remains a concern, ESPN reports that people close to Gronkowski and Belichick expect the tension to ease if the tight end shows he is fully committed to a return.
--Field Level Media