Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski still believes in the possibility of an NFL comeback by longtime former New England Patriots teammate Julian Edelman, despite Edelman publicly denying any chance of returning since his initial retirement announcement.
During a recent appearance on the ESPN program #Greeny, Gronkowski said he believes Edelman, who announced his NFL retirement after a failed physical in April, will return once he "truly heals up."
“I believe, you know, if Julian truly heals up and whatever’s hurting on him and he fully heals and feels good, I think he’ll be back," Gronkowski said. "I don’t see why he wouldn’t be back eventually in the future, maybe a year or two away. Lemme tell ya, he’s just a competitor. I say if he heals up 100%, feels good, I think he’ll be back in the NFL. I don’t know what team, I don’t know where, but I think he’s going to at least take this year off. He’s got a lot going on and he’ll be back, I think, if he heals up 100%.”
Last month, TMZ shared a video of Gronkowski at LAX and asked the four-time Super Bowl champion of the chances Edelman could join him and Brady as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season.
“69 percent chance,” Gronkowski responded, referencing his favorite number.
The tight end was then asked why that number specifically.
“You asked if there’s a chance. I gave you a number,” Gronkowski said. "He'll be back."
The two players were teammates with the New England Patriots for nine of the wide receiver's 12 NFL seasons before Gronkowski initially announced his retirement a month after after the Patriots' last Super Bowl victory in 2019, before announcing his return to football and having his rights traded by the Patriots to the Buccaneers in April 2020.
Edelman, however, said there's no truth to rumors about a possible reunion with longtime former Patriots teammates Gronkowski and Tom Brady as a member of the Bucs next season.
"Ain't going any where Bubs #foxboroforever," Edelman tweeted in response to former NFL punter and media personality Pat McAfee in relation to a recent discussion between the wide receiver and Brady on NFL Network.
Edelman recently appeared alongside Brady and others on the NFL Network's virtual 'Draft-A-Thon' special. During the broadcast, Brady seemingly joked about his longtime former Patriots teammate's retirement status and interest in a reunion.
"We know Julian didn’t retire. Let’s be honest," Brady said. "He’s just too scared to tell [Patriots head coach] Bill [Belichick] he wants to come to Tampa. I’ve been there."
Brady also compared Edelman's retirement decision to teammate Rob Gronkowski, who retired as a member of the Patriots in 2019 and cited injuries before coming out of retirement prior to the 2020 season and eventually joining the Brady during his first season in Tampa Bay, which coincided with a Super Bowl victory in February.
Edelman, who recently announced he will join the 'Inside the NFL' team as an on-air analyst as part of an overall deal with ViacomCBS, spent his entire 12-year NFL career with the Patriots and ranks second in franchise history for career receptions (620), fourth in receiving yards (6,822) and ninth in receiving touchdowns (36.)
The 34-year-old was part of three Super Bowl teams, including the Patriots' most recent championship, which saw Edelman earn MVP honors in Super Bowl LIII.
“He had a great career. He had an unbelievable career,” Edelman said. “But, I don’t know, we’re not there yet."
Edelman endured a frustrating final NFL season in 2020, which was limited to just six games due to a knee injury that led to "precautionary" surgery in October. The Patriots struggled in his absence, having already lost Brady to free agency, as well as several other key contributors, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“This whole year was so jacked up. It was so long, I just need to decompress for a little bit,” Edelman said via Pardon My Take. “I’m out in L.A. right now, taking my kid to school and picking her up, doing the kind of things you don’t get to do during the season, and I’m enjoying that right now.”
Edelman also provided an update on his recovery at the time of the previous interview, saying he was "getting there" and had plenty of time to reflect with an early offseason.
“It was a rough year when it came to just my physicality and how I felt,” Edelman said. “It’s tough, but this is the time where you sit and you self-reflect. You self-evaluate and you self-scout yourself through all last year. You’re really go in and try to develop a formula and try to develop a game plan for how you’re going to attack the offseason. That’s the process I’m in right now.”
The 34-year-old wide receiver was set to enter the final year of his contract with the Patriots next season, which carried a cap hit of more than $6.6 million.
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