The New England Patriots aren't ready to turn the page on Rob Gronkowski just yet. While Gronkowski is on the reserve/retired list, he can still come back to the league by November 30 ... a day Patriots owner Robert Kraft is holding out hope for. Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Kraft told Gronkowski in March that he wanted him to return for November, December, and a playoff run. This message was sent to Gronkowski back when he officially announced his retirement.
November 30 is the deadline that Gronkowski can return to the Patriots since he's on the reserve/retired list. If he's not back by that date, Gronkowski is ineligible to play for the rest of the year. Gronkowski has not turned his retirement papers in yet, adding to the speculation he's considering a return.
Gronkowski has denied a return several times,.
"When I retired, I retired for a reason," he said, via CBS Boston. "It would be a no. There it is."
"I'm enjoying myself right now. I don't have that itch, and if I had that itch I'd go back. It would have to be a continuous itch. I see Tom [Brady] throw a nice touchdown pass, I'm like "I wish that was me'. But that's five seconds [and it's gone]."
The push for Gronk has become more evident this season, given how the Patriots tight ends have fared. Ryan Izzo has six catches for 114 yards and a touchdown in six games while Matt LaCosse has three catches for 55 yards and no scores in four games. The Patriots signed Ben Watson in the offseason, but he was suspended the first four games of the year and the team subsequently released him before bringing him back a week later due to injuries to LaCosse and Izzo. Watson has eight catches for 72 yards in three games.
The Patriots certainly need help at tight end to give quarterback Tom Brady a pass-catching target in the middle of the field. New England has just three receivers that have 20-plus catches this season (Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Josh Gordon, the latter was released from the team two weeks ago). New England traded a second-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who has 12 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in two games.
The Patriots could certainly use Gronkowski to make a Super Bowl run, but unless he has a change of heart, Gronkowski isn't walking through those doors in One Patriot Place this year.