The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have succeeded at keeping the band together following their Super Bowl victory, retaining four of their top free agents -- wide receiver Chris Godwin, pass rusher Shaquil Barrett, linebacker Lavonte David and tight end Rob Gronkowski -- this offseason. It turns out, however, that Gronkowski, in particular, wasn't lying when he hinted he might play elsewhere in 2021 after entering this week's legal tampering period unsigned. According to NFL Network's Mike Silver, the longtime Patriots standout considered joining the Buffalo Bills, his ex-AFC East rivals, before re-signing in Tampa.
The Bills, who have been linked to most of this offseason's top available tight ends, reportedly offered Gronkowski a deal similar to the one he signed with the Bucs -- a one-year, $8 million pact worth up to $10 million thanks to incentives. And the offer had appeal, per Silver, considering Gronkowski was born and raised in the Buffalo area. Ultimately, it seems, staying with close friend and seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa proved too enticing.
It's notable that for the first nine years of Gronkowski's career, the longtime Patriots star faced the Bills at least twice a year. The former Pro Bowler certainly would've marked an upgrade at tight end in Buffalo, where the Bills are looking to find QB Josh Allen a more explosive pass-catching target. Instead, with Gronk back for a second year with the Buccaneers, the Bills could turn their attention to Rams free agent Gerald Everett, or perhaps longtime Eagles standout Zach Ertz, who's available via trade.