New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is more likely to continue his football career than retire at 28 years old, ESPN reported Sunday citing sources close to him.
Gronkowski still hasn't made a decision, but the sources say that he is "pretty certain" to return as long as quarterback Tom Brady remains with the team.
While that can be construed as a positive, the report noted that "lingering frustrations remain between Gronkowski and with head coach Bill Belichick" in addition to "others in the Patriots organization."
Gronkowski reported drew the ire of Belichick following his post regarding former Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola's offseason signing with the AFC East-rival Miami Dolphins. "Be FREE, Be HAPPY," Gronkowski wrote in a comment under a video of him hugging Amendola during a post on March 14.
According to the report, Belichick has questioned whether Gronkowski remains "all-in" with the team after the tight end reportedly considered retirement to pursue an acting career.
"I'm not going to speak for anybody else," Belichick said last week. "Conversations I've had with the players — and I've had a lot of them — I'm gonna keep those private between myself and the player. I'll respect that coach-to-player conversation. I don't want to speak for anybody else."
Gronkowski has battled injuries throughout his career, most recently a concussion in the AFC Championship Game. But reports have indicated his consideration of retiring may have more to do with being taxed emotionally than anything physical.
The five-time Pro Bowl selection raised questions about his status when he said the following after the Patriots' 41-33 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4: "I mean I'm definitely going to look at my future, for sure. I'm going to sit down the next couple of weeks and see where I'm at."
Gronkowski has two seasons remaining on a six-year extension signed in 2012. He is owed $17 million in base salary over the next two years.
He had a team-high 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns this past season.
Gronkowski set the NFL single-season record for touchdowns (18 — 17 receiving, one rushing) and receiving yards (1,327) by a tight end in 2011. He also became the first player at the position to lead the conference in scoring with 108 points.
Gronkowski has collected 474 career receptions for 7,179 yards and 76 touchdowns in 102 regular-season games.