Hannable: Patriots need Rob Gronkowski to make decision on 2018 soon

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Photo credit Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports

It’s been over two weeks since Super Bowl LII and the night Rob Gronkowski couldn’t commit to playing football in 2018.

Following a Mike Florio report before the game saying it could be his last, Gronkowski didn’t want to address it afterwards. Although he did say he would need to do some thinking.

“I don’t know how you heard that, but I’m definitely going to look at my future for sure,” he said. “I’m going to sit down the next couple weeks and see where I’m at.”

Since that night in Minnesota, there’s been nothing said by Gronkowski or any hints from his camp regarding what his thinking is. However, there have been rumors of a potential career in Hollywood or the WWE, which indicates this retirement talk is an actual thing. 

If Gronkowski was 100 percent set on playing football in 2018, wouldn’t it have been made clear by now?

The other side to the argument is this is a contract ploy by the 28-year-old tight end to get more money.

Gronkowski is on the books for base salaries of $8 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019. Clearly, he’s proven to be worth much more than that, and with the beating his body has taken over the years — dating all the way back to his college days at Arizona — he has good reason to demand more.

Ultimately, it’s Gronkowski’s decision to make. 

With all that he’s gone through over the course of his football career and what he’s accomplished on the field, he can do whatever he wants and no one can tell him otherwise. Nobody knows exactly what his body has gone through or what he’s feeling mentally.

He wouldn’t be the first star player to retire at a young age, either. Barry Sanders, Patrick Willis, Calvin Johnson and even Jerod Mayo all come to mind.

With all that being said, the Patriots need Gronkowski to give them an indication one way or the other on his 2018 status very soon, as their entire offseason depends on what he decides to do.

If he does want to return, it’s likely the Patriots will need to re-work his current contract, which they likely want to have a good idea about before free agency kicks off in mid-March. 

If he is seriously considering not playing, the tight end position almost immediately becomes a top three need this offseason and impacts the current roster as well.

First off, Dwayne Allen would likely not be going anywhere. Allen has been viewed as a player who likely will be cut, given it would save the team $5 million against the cap following a subpar first year in New England. But if Gronkowski isn’t around, the position needs some stability.

Secondly, the way the team approaches free agency would be much different. There would be an immediate need for a productive tight end. Perhaps, the team would pursue Jimmy Graham harder, but there are also other younger options on the market, including Trey Burton and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

All of these players will not last very long in free agency, which is why the Patriots need to have an idea ahead of time of what Gronkowski’s plans are, so they can decide their best course of action.

Clearly, Gronkowski’s 2018 status still being a topic of discussion three weeks before free agency begins indicates this is no joking matter, especially considering the only reports that have surfaced are ones that say Gronkowski contemplating retirement didn’t just come on following suffering a concussion in the AFC title game. This was something he talked about even before then.

This is a real decision Gronkowski has to make, but one that cannot drag out much longer because not only does Patriot Nation want an answer on his future, so does the actual team.

Its whole offseason is depending on it.