Rob Gronkowski's offseason circus of uncertainty is over.
The Patriots tight-end announced Tuesday on Instagram that he will be back in New England for the 2018 season to make a run at another Super Bowl.
"I met with coach today and informed him I will be back for the 2018 season with the Pats," Gronkowski wrote. "I have been working out, staying in shape and feel great. Looking forward to another championship run."
Months of speculation regarding Gronk's future began after the Pats' tough Super Bowl loss to the Eagles. The five-time Pro Bowler cast doubt over his return for the 2018 season, saying he would take time to seriously consider his playing future. But now, the Patriots organisation and their fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Additionally, the 28-year-old's agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter that his client would not be traded at any point over the coming season.
There had been real concern, particularly over the past couple of weeks, that Gronkowski wouldn't return to New England.
The dominant TE first didn't show up for the start of the team's voluntary workouts, then participated in a typical eccentric promotional press conference for a motocross event at which he made a series of odd remarks about dirt biking preventing him from playing football.
It appears though, that all of his delay tactics were with one thing in mind; an improved contract.
According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, Gronk's hold out was designed to make the Patriots sweat and give him the bargaining power in fresh contract negotiations.
"He is going to play for the Patriots," Rapoport said on NFL Total Access. "The only question is what is his salary going to be. I would expect that Gronkowski and the team are going to discuss that."
Negotiating a raise with an inevitably annoyed Bill Belichick is hardly the envy of any agent, but the Patriots head coach knows how valuable his star tight-end's pass catching ability is to his team's success. Given the loss of Danny Amendola in free agency to the Dolphins, Gronk's importance to New England's vaunted passing attack has never been greater, so they'd be advised to pay the man.
Regardless of whether he gets the financial boost he's after or not, it'll be great to see him back on the field in 2018.
Nobody would put it past Belichick to spite Gronkowski and draft a tight-end with one of the Patriots' two first-round picks though.
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