Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski acknowledged the possibility of playing a full season without Tom Brady for the first time in his NFL career.
Gronkowski, 32, addressed reporters Monday (January 24), hours after the Buccaneers' 30-27 NFC Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday (January 23), and said he could see a scenario where he continues his NFL career even if his longtime teammate Brady, 44, decides to retire.
"There could be a scenario like that," Gronkowski told reporters, via 95.3 WDAE. "I will never throw anything off the board because you never know how anything is going to play out. It's the NFL. It's one of the craziest businesses out there. You see organizations just totally flip year in and year out sometimes.
"I'm just going to really basically do what is basically best for myself in terms of the football world. It's basically going to be a decision upon where I'm at in a couple weeks."
Gronkowski also shared a tweet that seemed to be teasing speculation about his NFL future on Monday night.
“Year 11 in the books.What a ride it’s been,” Gronkowski wrote. “Grateful to the Bucs for giving me an opportunity to play another year. To my teammates, thank you for giving everything you had. The sweat we shed & memories made will never be forgotten. Thanks to the #Krewe too.Year 12???”
Gronkowski spent his first nine NFL seasons with the New England Patriots (2010-18) before previously retiring in 2019 and later coming out of retirement in 2020 to join Brady -- who signed with the Bucs in March 2020 after 20 seasons with the Patriots -- in Tampa Bay.
Gronkowski's comments came hours after Brady immediately faced questions about his NFL future during his postgame press conference on Sunday.
"Truthfully guys, I'm thinking about this game," Brady said after the 30-27 loss, which came on a last-second field goal after the Bucs rallied back from a 27-3 second-half deficit, via ESPN.
On Sunday (January 23), sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington that the 44-year-old quarterback was undecided about his NFL future and planned to take time after the season ends to asses how he feels mentally and physically, as well as his family's desires, before making deciding on his 23rd NFL season.
Brady's postgame comments reiterated that report following the Bucs' elimination loss.
"I haven't put a lot of thought into it, so you know, we will just take it day by day and kind of see where we are at," Brady said.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion has one year remaining on his contract with Tampa Bay, but has hinted at his interest to continue playing in the past.
The Buccaneers finished the 2021 NFL regular season with a 13-4 record, ranking second in the NFC, but were marred with several significant offensive injuries including leading wide receiver Chris Godwin, as well as the late season departure of Antonio Brown.
Tampa Bay dealt with even more injuries during Sunday's game with Tyler Johnson experienced a rib injury and Jaelon Darden suffering a concussion, forcing tight end Cameron Brate to line up as a slot receiver and a backup right guard being snaps at right tackle due to a lack of depth.
"It's the reality of football," said Brady, who lost in the divisional round for just the fourth time in his career. "Every team is really qualified when you get to the final eight, then the final four, then the final two and it doesn't feel good to lose any one of those games, and I have lost each of those stages. So at the end, there is only one team that is going to be happy. It feels good to move on when you move on, and obviously when you don't, whether it was last week or this week or next week, the week after, two weeks after that -- if you are a loser in that game, it all sucks to lose in the end."
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said "that's totally up to Tom" when asked about a timetable regarding his quarterback's decision on his NFL future.