April 24, 2020 / 1:05 AM / a month ago

Gronkowski thanks Patriots, says 'fire is back'

Tight end Rob Gronkowski posted a thank you and farewell to his former team, the New England Patriots, on Instagram on Thursday, two days after he was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

FILE PHOTO: New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after his team defeated the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Glendale, Arizona, February 1, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

“First and foremost, I want to thank the Patriots Organization for everything over the last 10 years,” Gronkowski wrote. “Without Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick taking a chance on me in the 2010 draft, I wouldn’t be sitting here in this position in life, THANK YOU both as well my former teammates for everything over the years.

“New England Patriot Fans, you guys have been nothing but amazing. I love you guys and appreciate your constant support for me big time over the last 10 years (even during retirement). THANK YOU all so much, the memories are incredible #PatsNation.”

Gronkowski also reflected on his year away from the NFL, calling it “hands down the best decision I made, not just in my career but also for my health and well-being.”

He added he feels healthy and energized by the return.

“And now my fire is back. I am grateful for this new chapter of my career,” he wrote. “I’m pumped to get down to Tampa, meet my new teammates, work hard, have a blast doing it, and give it my all this season!! I’m back and ready to lay a smack! #GoBucs!! ARRR!!!”

Gronkowski, who turns 31 in May, told reporters in a video conference call on Wednesday that he had begun considering a return a few months ago, and that Brady joining the Buccaneers drew his interest.

The Bucs sent a fourth-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for Gronkowski and a seventh-round pick to bring him to Tampa Bay.

A five-time Pro Bowler and four-time first-team All-Pro, Gronkowski totaled 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns across nine seasons for the Patriots from 2010-18. Along with one rushing touchdown, his 80 scores are the most in Patriots history.

He had 47 catches for 682 yards and three scores over 13 games in 2018, battling a few nagging injuries.

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