Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots’ tight end, announced Sunday that he is retiring from the NFL after nine seasons.
The four-time All-Pro posted his decision on Instagram , saying “it’s time to move forward and move forward with a big smile.”
“It all started at 20 years old on stage at the NFL draft when my dream came true, and now here I am about to turn 30 in a few months with a decision I feel is the biggest of my life so far,” Gronkowski wrote in his post. “I will be retiring from the game of football today.”
Drew Rosenhaus, Gronkowski’s agent, confirmed his client’s decision to retire.
Gronk, who turns 30 in May, leaves as a three-time Super Bowl champion. His personality — on and off the field — was as big as the plays he made on the field and he always seemed to be the life of the party.
“In the nine years that I have known Rob Gronkowski, I have never known him to have a bad day,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. “He always has a youthful exuberance about him and is a joy to be around.
Gronkowski has been sidelined in recent seasons by back, knee, ankle and arm injuries.
In his Instagram post, Gronkowski thanked the Patriots organization, coach Bill Belichick and New England’s fans for their support during his nine NFL seasons.
“His production spoke for itself, but his daily attitude, unmistakably positive energy wherever he went and toward whoever he touched will never be forgotten,” Belichick said in a statement.
Several of his teammates took to social media to express what their time with Gronk means to them.
“Love you man!!” Brady wrote on Instagram, along with an emoji of a goat to refer to Gronkowski as the greatest of all-time. “Couldn’t be a better person or teammate!!!!”
“The other goat,” Edelman posted on his Instagram page, also referring to Brady.
Gronkowski is expected to get strong consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame when eligible.
He was a second-round pick in the 2010 draft, had his fourth career 1,000-yard receiving season in 2017 and was an All-Pro for the fourth time that season.
Gronkowski finished the 2018 regular season with just 47 catches for 682 yards and three touchdowns.
His 12 career postseason touchdown receptions are the most by a tight end in NFL playoff history. As well as his 81 career postseason catches are best among tight ends.
He’ll also retire with 79 career TD catches — regular season and playoffs — which is third all-time by a tight end behind only Antonio Gates (116) and Tony Gonzalez (111).
Brady and Gronkowski connected on 78 TD passes. It is the second-most scoring connections between a quarterback and a tight end in NFL history behind only Philip Rivers and Gates (89) and is fifth overall between quarterbacks and all pass-catchers.