Rob Gronkowski’s retirement clears way for Chiefs’ Travis Kelce to move up all-time leaderboards

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Former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement from the NFL (again). Should he stay retired this season, it could put Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce in the driver’s seat to surpass Gronk on the all-time leaderboard for tight ends.

In 13 fewer regular-season games played, Kelce already has more targets (994), receptions (704), first downs (476), receptions per game (5.5) and average receiving yards per game (70.9). He needs to catch up on a few other key statistics, though.

Kelce and Gronk were the only two active players currently competing for a spot in the top-5 leaderboards in terms of career receiving yards. Kelce has just 280 fewer career receiving yards compared to Gronk’s 9,286 yards, which rank fifth all-time among tight ends behind Shannon Sharpe, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez. Kelce should knock that out to move into fifth all-time in the first few games of the season, but he can also pass Sharpe (9,961) if he records what would be a seventh consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season.

Gronk has a significant lead over Kelce in terms of career touchdowns with 92 scores (third all-time) to Kelce’s 57. It’s going to take more than a season for Kelce to catch up and surpass Gronk in that area. It’s not out of the question that the 32-year-old Kelce could catch up with a few more good seasons under his belt. Kelce should pass Greg Olsen, Shannon Sharpe and Vernon Davis this season to move in sixth all-time among tight ends if he can match his season average of seven touchdowns scored.

In terms of postseason play, Kelce tied John Stallworth’s 12 career receiving touchdowns last year for third place all-time in NFL history. Only Gronkowski (15) and Jerry Rice (22) have more. He needs four more touchdowns to surpass Gronk there. Kelce already has beat Gronk for the most postseason receptions by a tight end in NFL history with 106. He currently only trails Julian Edelman (118) and Jerry Rice (151) in the race for the most postseason receptions in league annals.

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