Rob Gronkowski has retired after nine seasons with the Patriots. He is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, but is he the best tight end in NFL history?
After nine seasons and 115 games, Rob Gronkowski is retiring. The Patriots tight end enjoyed a brilliant career as one of the most dominant players the position has ever seen. When he was healthy, he might go down as the greatest tight end of all time.
Gronkowski’s next stop will be a trip to Canton and should be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The man affectionately known as “Gronk” finishes his career with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. He set an NFL record with 17 touchdown receptions in his second year in the NFL in 2011.
Injuries, however, have robbed Gronkowski of his dynamic ability to block and make big catches down the field at the same level he enjoyed earlier in his career. Gronkowski has been limited to 14 touchdowns over the last three seasons. He has only played a full 16-game season one time in his career, that coming in 2011 when he had the 17 touchdowns and had 90 catches for 1,327 yards.
Like Mike Ditka, John Mackey, Kellen Winslow, Tony Gonzalez, Shannon Sharpe and Antonio Gates before him, Gronkowski redefined the position. He was the ultimate dual-threat tight end who could act like a third offensive tackle and be a devastating blocker in the run game and could hit you down the seam for a big gain on third down and be a nightmare to cover in the red zone.
Now that Gronkowski has retired, something that has been coming for the last two years, the conversation can shift to where he ranks among the best at the position?
There hasn’t been a more dominant tight end than Gronkowski so he’s the best the game has seen on a per game basis. However, when factoring in longevity and his availability, Gonzalez gets the nod as the most prolific tight end in NFL history.