It was a rough start to the off-season for the New England Patriots when Tom Brady — the greatest quarterback of all time — made the decision to take his supreme talents to Tampa Bay. And after 20 years with the franchise, the six-time Super Bowl Champion will continue his NFL career as a Buccaneer. While his departure was announced in mid-March, fans are still coming to terms with his absence as it officially marks the end of an era.
However, in the midst of this transition, Rob Gronkowski — arguably the greatest tight end the league has ever seen — has come out of retirement so that he can be reunited in Tampa Bay with Tom Brady. It’s enough to make even the most ardent New England Patriots fan weep with anguish. Just ask Peter Schieffelin Nyberg, who is a lifelong Pats fan, despite currently living and working in the heart of Carolina Panthers country.
Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady are Reunited
“It was staggering enough to try and comprehend losing Tom Brady, who has been synonymous with the New England Patriots franchise since he led the team to its first Super Bowl victory in 2002,” commented Peter Schieffelin Nyberg, who is CFO at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Camino Community Center, which works to positively impact the lives of thousands of low-income and underserved individuals; many of whom are Latino immigrants. “And now to see Gronkowski come out of retirement and head to the Bucs is devastating”
Peter Schieffelin Nyberg isn’t the only one who’s floored by the Gronkowski saga. Several NFL insiders such as Rex Ryan have expressed their shock at the trade, while others like Tony Dungy have declared that Tampa Bay is definitely going to the Super Bowl (although whether that’s in February 2021 or February 2022 depends less on Brady and Gronkowski and more on COVID-19). However, what virtually everyone seems to agree on whether they love the Patriots or, alas, love to hate them, is that the return for Gronkowski is extremely underwhelming.
“Trading Gronkowski, who had one year left on his deal with the Pats before retiring, along with a seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay in return for a fourth-round pick is hard to stomach,” commented Peter Schieffelin Nyberg.
Admittedly, the Patriots didn’t really have any leverage in the swap. Gronkowski was clear and consistent that he wanted to rejoin Brady in Tampa Bay, and wouldn’t play anywhere else. That meant the Patriots could only negotiate with Tampa Bay. Furthermore, Gronkowski still had $10 million left on his deal with the Patriots. If he was so inclined, then he could have come out of retirement and forced the Patriots to reinstate him on the roster. The team would then have been obligated to have a fire sale and free up $8 million in cap space.
The End of an Era
“Thankfully, Gronkowski — who has always been a class act – didn’t put his old team through the ringer,” commented Peter Schieffelin Nyberg. “Right now, Patriots fans are stunned and staggered. An era that meant so much to so many people is officially over. To go from the high of winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago, to wondering if we’ll even compete for a wild card, is very hard to accept. Suffice it to say, I think all of the pressure right now is going to be on Belichick, because it’s conceivable that under a different coach the Patriots could be going into next season with both Brady and Gronkowski on the roster.”