New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski retires from NFL: Is the greatest tight end in NFL history?

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.

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It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far. I will be retiring from the game of football today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010. My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field. The people I have meet, the relationships I have built, the championships I have been apart of, I just want to thank the whole New England Patriots organization for every opportunity I have been giving and learning the great values of life that I can apply to mine. Thank you to all of Pats Nation around the world for the incredible support since I have been apart of this 1st class organization. Thank you for everyone accepting who I am and the dedication I have put into my work to be the best player I could be. But now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life. It was truly an incredible honor to play for such a great established organization and able to come in to continue and contribute to keep building success. To all my current and past teammates, thank you for making each team every year special to be apart of. I will truly miss you guys. Cheers to all who have been part of this journey, cheers to the past for the incredible memories, and a HUGE cheers to the uncertain of whats next.

A post shared by Rob Gronkowski (@gronk) on

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.

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