Can Gronk Retiring Open Up AFC East For Jets Or Bills?
With the news that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has decided to retire, I see all kinds of questions being asked. Goz just asked if Gronk was a Hall Of Famer. Gronk's agent Drew Rosenhaus is questioning if this is really the end of Gronk's NFL career. My question is does one of the games greatest tight ends retiring narrow the gap between the Patriots and the rest of the AFC East enough that teams like the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills have a chance to win the AFC East this year?
It seems that every year the New England Patriots are not only the favorite to win the AFC East but there's not even hope for the other teams. No matter who's on the field for the Patriots they just seem to reload and win. The prevailing wisdom is "As long as they have Brady and Belichick" the Pats are the team to beat. I'm not disputing that the Pats will be the favorite again this year and will most likely still win the AFC East but I do think Gronk is far more than just another Pro Bowl player they can replace with ease.
Offensively speaking, Gronk is at worst the third-best tight end of all time. Only Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates rival him. Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is now entering the conversation but for my money, no one blocks the way Gronk did. The modern-day tight end seems to block as a formality while Gronk might actually like blocking as much as getting in the endzone himself.