Rob Gronkowski has been in the NFL since 2010 and in the 11 years since then, the tight end has never been a free agent. However, that's finally going to change this offseason and that's because Gronk is set to hit the market for the first time ever when free agency starts at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Although Gronk has made it clear that he wants to return to Tampa Bay in 2021, that doesn't mean he's not going to listen if other teams call. During an interview on the "10 Questions with Kyle Brandt" podcast Gronkowski revealed that he plans to "dip his toes" in the free agency waters this year.
"With the free agency process, I definitely want to be back with the Buccaneers," Gronkowski said. "That's where my eyesight is, that's where I'm leaning toward big time, but you know, with the free agency process you just never know what may happen. There are some other teams interested out there, too. I've also never been a part of the free agency process so I actually want to dip my toes in just to see what's out there because, like I said, I want to be a free agent every year, so if I dip my toes in this year, see what's out there, see how it works."
Gronkowski has only signed two contracts in his NFL career. After the Patriots selected him in the second-round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the tight end signed a four-year rookie deal. In 2012, Gronk signed a six-year extension that was supposed to expire in 2019, but since he retired for a year, the contract carried over until 2020 and it traveled with him to Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers traded for him. That contract has now expired though, which is why he is now a free agent for the first time ever.
"When I was 22, I signed an [long] deal when I was with that Patriots," Gronkowski said. "I played out the whole contract. To play an eight-year contract out in the NFL is pretty incredible. It's pretty rare to see someone to ever even finish a contract in the NFL, so that was pretty special, but I've never been a free agent before."
Although Gronkowski signed a long-term deal in 2012, he won't be doing that anymore. Starting with the 2021 season, the 31-year-old said he'll only be signing one-year deals from here on out.
"I'm planning on being a free agent after every season," Gronkowski said. "I feel like I'm a one-year deal guy for the rest of my career, even if I play 10 more years. Just control my destiny every year."
Gronkowski has clearly been giving this one-year plan some serious thought lately.
"[After one year] I'll know how free agency works and I'll know how teams come after you and then I'll have that much more of an advantage every single year because I'll be experienced in the free agency game," Gronkowski said. "It feels pretty cool to be a free agent."
Gronk has made it pretty clear that he likes playing with Tom Brady, so it will be a total shock if he leaves the Buccaneers, but based on his comments, it seems he's leaving the door ever so slightly open for a possible exit from Tampa.