Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver Mike Evans is still hopeful that he'll share the field with Rob Gronkowski again in 2022, though he does feel like the legendary tight end's retirement decision may be for good.
During an interview with KPRC sports anchor Ari Alexander, Evans addressed the possibility of Gronkowski returning, despite having recently announcing his retirement for a second time and the possibility following a similar route to quarterback Tom Brady, who returned then unretired earlier this year.
“I hope he comes back. With Tom and Gronk, you never know,” Evans said. “I wouldn’t be mad if he came back. I’d actually be really excited if he came back, but I feel like he’s done. He plays the tight end position and he plays it max effort. Gives it his all, practices really hard, takes a lot of shots, blocks, runs after the catch. He takes a pretty big beating, I’ve seen his body after some of them games and I understand why.”
Evans called Gronkowski "the best tight end ever" and said it would be up to him and the rest of the Bucs' passing attack to pick up the slack should the tight end remain retired.
Gronkowski officially announced his retirement after 11 NFL seasons in a lengthy Instagram post on last month.
The four-time Super Bowl champion had previously retired in 2019 following his last Super Bowl victory as a member of the Patriots, before coming out of retirement the following offseason and rejoining Brady -- his teammate for his entire career -- after being traded to the Buccaneers days later.
Gronkowski ranks third all-time among NFL tight ends in career touchdown receptions (92), fifth in receiving yards (9,286) and 10th in receptions (621).