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'Cheers to what’s next': Bucs' Rob Gronkowski announces retirement from NFL

The 33-year-old future Hall of Famer posted the announcement Tuesday afternoon on Instagram.

TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is retiring from the NFL — again.

The 33-year-old future Hall of Famer announced the news Tuesday afternoon in a heartfelt Instagram post where he thanked the Buccaneers organization, fans and the entire Tampa Bay area for his incredible career.

The four-time Super Bowl champ described how playing for the Bucs was his "dream job opportunity" in college.

"And let me tell ya, the journey in Tampa over the last 2 years has blown away what I originally wrote about in college, big time," he wrote.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht released a statement following Gronk's retirement announcement. 

"Rob is a true professional who left it all on the field for us the past two seasons and helped establish a championship culture in our building," Licht said. "He played a crucial part in our Super Bowl LV championship season in 2020 and battled through a number of injuries last year while on the way to one of the most productive receiving yardage seasons in his 11-year career."

Licht continued showing his appreciation for the star tight end and wished him the best in his future endeavors — and even mentioned Gronkowski's likelihood of becoming an NFL Hall of Famer.

"It is always difficult to see a great player walk away from the game when he is still enjoying that kind of success, but the overwhelming emotions I feel today are gratitude and respect for one of the greatest tight ends who ever played the game. While his on-field accomplishments will surely earn him a gold jacket and a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is his humble attitude and team-first approach to the game that truly defined his career."

Gronkowski previously retired in 2019 after nine seasons with the New England Patriots. But that retirement was short-lived, lasting only 13 months before he joined Tom Brady in Tampa, where they won Super Bowl LV.

Now, he's walking back into his "retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped out on the field."

As for what's next —  we don't know for sure. 

"Maybe sailing the seas 🏴‍☠️" he joked in his Instagram post.  

The tight end reportedly told sports journalist Jordan Schultz, who was the first to report the news, that he is "excited to pursue other opportunities."

Gronkowski leaves the game regarded as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history. He first made waves in 2011 when he set the league record for most receiving touchdowns by a tight end with 17. 

As ESPN reports, Gronk was named a First-Team All-Pro in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017, and was picked to five Pro Bowls during his 11-season career.

He has the most career touchdowns by a tight end in postseason history, with 15, and the most 100-yard games by a tight end in NFL history.

Tom Brady, regarded as the greatest quarterback of all time and Gronk's good friend, also announced his retirement earlier this year, only to unretire less than two months later.

And according to his agent, that option isn't completely off the table for Gronkowski either.

"It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call," Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN's Adam Schefter. "This is just my opinion but I wouldn't be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season."

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