Rob Gronkowski, who has had an amazing comeback, doesn't know yet if he'll keep playing

Rob Gronkowski was one of the best tight ends in the NFL this season. He was sixth in receiving yards at the position. His average per catch was third-best for any tight end with more than 15 catches.

He's about to turn 33 but clearly he can still play. He thinks he could keep it going for a long time.

"Realistically, I feel like I could at least play, if I wanted to, if I was dedicated, if I was all-in every single year, I feel like at least another four or five years, realistically," Gronkowski said, in a phone interview as part of a Groupon contest in which the winner can host a Super Bowl party for his or her friends at Gronkowski's house.

Yet, it's not just about knowing you can play.

"It's, am I enjoying it anymore?" Gronkowski said without skipping a beat. "Do I want to put that mental and physical stress week in and week out on myself? Do I love going in and banging myself up every week. That's what you have to look at."

Gronkowski doesn't know if he'll be back for another season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or anyone else. It's something he'll wrestle with over the next few weeks. Yes, Tom Brady's status will also be at least some factor in his decision, he says. Gronkowski can play again if he wants to.

That's the easy part of the decision.

Rob Gronkowski has had a great comeback

Gronkowski is one of the rare NFL players who can leave on his own terms. He did once already.

Gronkowski was beat up and retired after the 2018 season. He took a year off. Then he said he realized he still could play. Brady going to the Buccaneers opened up an opportunity. He missed playing and came back.

"I know I'm not going to be able to play football my whole life and I knew I was still able to play, I was still in shape so why not give it another try?" Gronkowski said. "I'm very happy I have. I played two more seasons since I retired, which is pretty awesome. It's actually really awesome. I'm really grateful for the past two years."

Gronkowski has been very good, even if he's just short of prime Gronk with the New England Patriots. He had two good seasons with the Bucs, including winning another Super Bowl last season, though it wasn't easy. Through his first two games back, he had two catches for 11 yards. Gronkowski is arguably the greatest tight end ever, but there were times when he had doubts about his comeback.

"Football is trying to take your confidence away from you, every single day. That's how demanding the game of football is," Gronkowski said. "There's times I was like, 'Man, I don't think I have it.' Then two days later I'm ready to go and wondering 'Why am I not going for 100 yards every game?' That's how crazy football is. It can be up and down."

It worked out. Gronk has added another chapter to a career that is obviously Hall-of-Fame worthy.

Now he has to ask himself if he wants to keep going.

Rob Gronkowski is uncertain if he'll be back for the 2022 season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Rob Gronkowski is uncertain if he'll be back for the 2022 season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Gronkowski not sure on Tom Brady's future either

Gronkowski said he has "no decision" in his mind, that it will come naturally to him at some point in the offseason. It's too soon, after another punishing season that ended Sunday with a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams, to decide on next season.

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"Definitely got to take a little time off, no doubt about that," Gronkowski said. "To come back, first off, I have to recover. Feel good, have that confidence back in myself, have the energy back and the motivation back to give all that energy week in and week out."

"You never know. Maybe I'll find something I love to do in the next month and then be like, 'I'm doing this the rest of my life.' That's what I mean, play it my ear. There's no reason to rush into a decision."

He does have other outlets and interests. He is, after all, opening up his 4,486 square-foot house in Foxborough, Mass. for a Super Bowl party to a lucky winner of a Groupon contest. He's the guy pitching insurance every other commercial break on your television. He has made more than $72 million in salary alone during his football career.

Part of the equation will be Brady, Gronkowski's quarterback his whole career. Gronkowski said he has no idea what Brady will do, and he'll give it a week or two before he gives Brady a call. He said he won't just follow what Brady does, but did say Brady's decision might influence him.

"It could, put it that way." Gronkowski said.

A few high-profile players have to figure out in the next few months if they'll be back for another season. Whether or not Sunday's loss to the Rams was it for Gronkowski, he has no regrets about his comeback.

"It definitely went pretty well, there's no doubt about that," Gronkowski said. "Overall, super successful the past two seasons since coming back. Super grateful for the past two years. Very happy I came back to play."