Rob Gronkowski decided to tag along with old pal Tom Brady and moved to Tampa Bay after spending a year in retirement doing whatever it is Gronk likes to do when he's not playing football. The results have been... mixed so far. Gronkowski got his strength back up to NFL levels and appears to have not lost a beat when it comes to blocking on the line; in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' most recent game, he stonewalled star Los Angeles Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa by himself on several occasions.
Other than that, he hasn't looked like the Gronk of old. Which is to be expected, all things considered. The last time we saw him on the field in 2018, he was so obviously hobbled by injuries that he was barely recognizable-- and then he took a year off from the game. With all that in mind, his statline from four games of nine catches for 88 yards and zero touchdowns shouldn't be too surprising.
The Bucs offense has been hit hard with the injury bug to start the year, however. Chris Godwin is dealing with a hamstring injury, Mike Evans literally limped through last week's game, and then O.J. Howard went down for the year with a torn Achilles. It feels like they're gonna need Gronkowski to be more of a threat in the passing game until the team gets healthy, and Dominique Foxworth said as much on Get Up this morning, imploring Brady to get his guy involved.
As noted in the segment, Cameron Brate is still healthy and will be the top receiving option from the tight end position. And Foxworth is right to say that tight ends are an important part of a Tom Brady offense.
But tight ends are not an important part of a Bruce Arians offense. Arians said in September that Gronk is there to play tight end, whether that means 10 catches or zero catches. From what he's said publicly, it's clear he values Gronkowski's blocking as much as he does his receiving prowess, if not more so. He will not make it a point to get the big tight end the ball, which is the correct decision for anybody who's seen how Gronkowski has moved with the ball this season.
Anything Gronkowski can give them in terms of catching the ball is a positive. He's not there, as Arians said, to run 40 yards past people any more. He's still an excellent in-line blocker for a tight end and his arrival made Brady happy. Those are the two things that matter the most. Even if the Bucs end up with Scotty Miller as their top receiving option, they shouldn't be forcing it to Gronkowski. He just isn't that guy anymore.
That's fine! He can still contribute in the ways noted above. But a Rob Gronkowski-centric gameplan in 2020 is not going to work. Tampa Bay should be happy with what he gives them on the margins and leave it at that. The days of his game-changing ability are long past.