Former New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski will come out of retirement to reunite with Tom Brady on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Gronkowski announced his retirement in 2019, but he will now be traded by the Patriots to the Buccaneers in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick, the NFL tweeted. Brady, the longtime Patriots quarterback, sent shock waves through the NFL in March, when he decided to leave New England for Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers' General Manager Jason Licht in a statement called Gronkowski "one of the best tight ends in NFL history."
Gronkowski, a five-time Pro Bowl tight end, has remained in the spotlight, as he became the WWE 24/7 champion this month during the franchise's WrestleMania event.
Gronkowski announced his retirement just shy of his 30th birthday in an Instagram post, but he had been rumored to be considering leaving football since the end of the 2017 season. He opened up in August about his decision to go.
"I want to be clear to my fans, I needed to recover," Gronkowski said during a speaking event. "I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down. I didn't like it, and I was losing that joy in life."
When he stopped playing football in 2019, Gronkowski was one of the most highly regarded tight ends in the league, with 521 receptions, 7,861 receiving yards and 79 touchdowns, according to the NFL. He has since worked as an analyst for Fox Sports and made a few television appearances, including a stint on "The Masked Singer."
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It's unclear exactly what prompted Gronkowski's return to professional football, but he was notably close with Brady during their time with the Patriots.
Brady won six Super Bowls during his 20 seasons with New England, sharing three of them with Gronkowski.
Licht, the Bucs general manager, in the statement referred to the bond between the two players in announcing the deal.
"Rob has played his entire career alongside Tom Brady and their accomplishments speak for themselves," Licht said. "Together they have developed the type of chemistry on and off the field that is crucial to success."
Brady wrote a touching tribute to his friend on Instagram last year after Gronkowski announced his retirement. Brady wrote that Gronk, as he's widely known, brought an inspiring and positive energy to everyone he came into contact with.
"Not just that, but for as great as a player you are, you are a better teammate and person," Brady wrote. "The NFL was a better place with you in it!"