Sep 26, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) completes a pass play and runs for a first down in the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski retires — again

Five-time Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski has called it a career for the second time in the NFL, this time from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Gronkowski, 33, posted his decision Tuesday in a lengthy Twitter post.

“I will now be going back to my retirement home, walking away from football again with my head held high knowing I gave it everything I had, good or bad, every time I stepped on the field,” Gronkowski posted.

“From retirement, back to football and winning another championship and now back to chilling out, thank you to all,” Gronk wrote.

One person who doesn’t think he’ll stay retired is his own agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

“It would not surprise me if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call,” Rosenhaus told ESPN after the news broke. “This is just my opinion but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.”

At age 29, Gronkowski retired after nine seasons and three Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots. He was lured back into the game by the appeal of playing again with Brady when the legendary Patriots quarterback joined the Buccaneers before the 2020 season.

The two won a fourth Super Bowl together after the 2020 season but fell short of the goal in 2021, losing to the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams in the NFC divisional playoffs.

Gronkowski caught 55 passes for 802 yards and six touchdowns in 2021 despite missing five games to injury. In two seasons at Tampa, Gronkowski caught 100 passes for 1,425 yards and 13 touchdowns in 28 games.

In 143 career games, Gronkowski has 621 receptions for 9,286 yards with 92 touchdowns. He has been selected as a first-team All-Pro four times and ranks third all-time in TDs among tight ends.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with  running back Leonard Fournette (7) after running the ball in for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa teammates thought Tom Brady would return

When Tom Brady retired with a lengthy social media post, running back Leonard Fournette saw the next route coming: the reverse.

Brady, who spent just more than one month retired after the February announcement, was back in uniform with Fournette and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Fournette said it’s almost like Brady, 44, never left.

“He hasn’t lost a step. He is who he is,” Fournette said. “And me just being alongside him these three years, I wouldn’t want any other guy back there with us. He deserves everything he’s got and that’s coming to him. And I’m just proud of him.”

Brady said last week he felt pressure to make a decision on returning with free agency and the draft approaching.

Fournette figured Brady would be back after a 30-27 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on a last-second field goal ended the Bucs’ season in the NFC divisional round in January.

“I kind of knew because I told him, I want to say two days after the game, I’m like, ‘T, we can’t go out like that.’ And he agreed with me,” Fournette said Tuesday. “Like, we left too many mistakes on the field that kind of messed us up and we were playing catch-up the whole game. So I think as a champion, I knew he wouldn’t want to go out like that for his legacy.”

Brady’s return was a magnet for fellow Buccaneers’ free agents, including Fournette, who re-signed on a three-year deal.

A reunion with Brady played in a role in the team’s most recent signing, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Hicks played with the New Orleans Saints for his first three-plus seasons before a trade sent him to New England. After playing with the Patriots, Hicks spent six seasons with the Chicago Bears and contemplated retirement at age 32.

“Something I’ve thought of often is that when I came into the league I had Drew Brees and Tom Brady as my first two quarterbacks,” Hicks said Tuesday. “And then I went to Chicago … it wasn’t Drew Brees and Tom Brady, let me say that, right? I feel spoiled to have somebody on the other side of the ball that can deliver all the time, and he’s proven it over the years.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) reacts after sacking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) during the second half at Soldier Field. The Minnesota Vikings won 17-9. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs officially sign veteran DL Akiem Hicks

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed the signing of veteran defensive lineman Akiem Hicks on Wednesday.

Terms were not disclosed but multiple reports Tuesday said it was a one-year deal worth up to $10 million.

The former Chicago Bears starter joins a defensive line that includes 2021 Pro Bowl selection Vita Vea and Logan Hall, the 33rd overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. Hicks’ signing likely means the Bucs will not re-sign free agent Ndamukong Suh.

Hicks, 32, was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2012. He spent his first three seasons with New Orleans, split the 2015 campaign between the Saints and New England Patriots, then signed as a free agent with Chicago before the 2016 season.

In his six years with the Bears, Hicks started 77 games and was credited with 31 sacks, including 3.5 in nine games last season when he dealt with COVID-19 and ankle and groin injuries. In 138 career games (110 starts), Hicks has 40.5 sacks, 387 tackles (73 for loss), six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96) reacts after sacking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) during the second half at Soldier Field. The Minnesota Vikings won 17-9. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Buccaneers to sign free-agent DL Akiem Hicks

Former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed on a one-year deal that could be worth up to $10 million according to multiple reports Tuesday.

Hicks is set to join a defensive line that includes 2021 Pro Bowl selection Vita Vea and Logan Hall, the 33rd overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft. His signing likely means the Buccaneers will not re-sign free agent Ndamukong Suh.

Hicks, 32, was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in 2012. He spent his first three seasons with New Orleans, split the 2015 campaign between the Saints and New England Patriots, then signed as a free agent with Chicago before the 2016 season.

In his six years with the Bears, Hicks started 77 games and was credited with 31 sacks, including 3.5 in nine games last season when he dealt with COVID-19 and ankle and groin injuries. In 138 career games (110 starts), Hicks has 40.5 sacks, 387 tackles (73 for loss), six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

–Field Level Media

Jun 1, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Travis Jonsen (16) runs with the ball during organized team activities at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs WR Travis Jonsen faces misdemeanor DUI charge

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Travis Jonsen was arrested on a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge on Monday.

In a news release, Tampa police said officers spotted Jonsen driving his car in a manner “indicative of impairment.” He was stopped and arrested at 3:18 a.m.

Jonsen, 25, refused to take a breath test, according to the release. He posted a $500 bond and was released from jail.

Jonsen has been a practice squad player with the Bucs over parts of the past two seasons. He was signed as an undrafted free agent from Montana State.

“We expect members of our organization to uphold the high standards that have been established,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “We are aware of the situation regarding Travis Jonsen earlier this morning and will refrain from further comment at this time while the legal process continues.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Former NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown watches the game between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Brown says NFL not on his radar next season

Controversial free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown, who earlier this month said he wanted to retire as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, now says he has no plans to play in the NFL next season.

“Don’t play yourself lookin’ to me to play,” Brown said Saturday during an interview at a Fan Controlled Football league game. Just before that, Brown said: “Obviously, we live the game, but you can’t play forever. I think I’m a great player that’s done everything in the game. “

In March, the 12-year NFL veteran expressed interest in joining the Cleveland Browns.

Brown, 33, most recently played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching 87 passes for 1,028 yards in his two seasons there (2020-21) but winning his only career Super Bowl with the team. He removed his pads and jersey and left the field during the third quarter of Tampa Bay’s Week 17 road win over the New York Jets.

A few days later, the Buccaneers released Brown, and the wideout claimed the team forced him to play hurt and covered up facts related to his injury. Then-head coach Bruce Arians denied the allegations.

Brown played for the Steelers from 2010-18, totaling 837 receptions for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns. He was named to seven Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams during his nine seasons with the team. But after he got into an argument with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and was benched for an important Week 17 game for missing practices, he requested a trade after the 2018 season.

Brown then played in one game for the New England Patriots in 2019 before being released amid allegations of sexual assault. He joined the Buccaneers for the next two seasons after serving an eight-game suspension handed down by the league in a separate incident that involved an altercation with the driver of a moving truck. He entered a no-contest plea to charges filed in the case and received probation.

–Field Level Media

May 6, 2022; Ashburn, Virginia, USA; A view of game balls in an equipment bag during Washington Commanders rookie minicamp at Inova Performance Center In Ashburn, VA. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Former Bucs TE Calvin Magee dies at 59

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Calvin Magee, who was in his first year as an assistant coach at Jacksonville State, died at age 59 after a suffered heart attack last weekend.

The school announced news of Magee’s death on Friday. No funeral details have been announced.

“Our hearts are broken with the loss of our beloved friend Calvin Magee,” Jacksonville State head coach Rich Rodriguez said in a statement. “Calvin was a great husband, great father and grandfather, great coach, great friend and great man. He impacted my life and the lives of so many others in such a positive way. … Our world is less, but heaven got better. I miss him dearly already. I love you my brother.”

Magee, who was hired by the school in December, also held titles of offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. He spent 25 of the previous 26 seasons at numerous FBS spots and served as offensive coordinator at five of them: West Virginia, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Arizona and New Mexico.

Magee was a star tight end at Southern University who was eventually inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2000. He joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 1985 and spent four seasons with the team.

The Buccaneers released a statement that reda, “Calvin Magee was part of the Tampa Bay community for many years, first as a Buccaneers player, and then as a high school and college coach. We send our condolences to his family, friends and the countless players he impacted in his more than three decades coaching the game.”

In his four NFL seasons, Magee caught 114 passes for 1,379 yards and 11 touchdown passes in 56 games (34 starts).

–Field Level Media

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) gestures downfield in the second quarter during Super Bowl 56 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. The Cincinnati Bengals lost, 23-20.

Nfl Super Bowl 56 Los Angeles Rams Vs Cincinnati Bengals Feb 13 2022 1393

Bills-Rams season opener among highlights of 2022 NFL schedule

The defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams will open the 2022 NFL season at home against a leading contender in the AFC, the Buffalo Bills.

That was one of many missing pieces finalized Thursday when the NFL revealed the complete 272-game regular-season schedule. For the second straight season, the slate covers 18 weeks.

Teams have known the 17 opponents they will face since the end of the 2021 season, but the schedule reveal, complete with bye weeks and primetime broadcast assignments, has become a made-for-TV offseason event for the league.

The league announced a series of select games in the week-plus leading up to Thursday, including five international games to be played across London, Munich and Mexico City, and the Rams’ game against the Denver Broncos as part of the first-ever Christmas Day tripleheader.

Among other Week 1 fixtures, the unretired Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hit the road to play the Dallas Cowboys for the first “Sunday Night Football” game of the year, and the Broncos will visit the Seattle Seahawks on “Monday Night Football,” making quarterback Russell Wilson’s first game with the Broncos coincide with his return to Seattle after 10 seasons.

The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Bills in Week 8 in a rematch of the 2020 AFC Championship Game and a 2021 AFC Divisional Round playoff game, both of which were high-scoring instant classics. The Chiefs won both meetings, the latter in overtime.

The Chiefs will also get another swipe at the Buccaneers when they play at Tampa Bay in Week 4 on “Sunday Night Football” in a rematch of Super Bowl LV, in which Brady’s Bucs defeated Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs.

The rest of the Christmas tripleheader will contain the Green Bay Packers at the Miami Dolphins and the Buccaneers at the Arizona Cardinals. Broncos-Rams will be the second game of the three.

The full Week 1 schedule is below (all times ET):

Sept. 8
Buffalo at L.A. Rams, 8:20 p.m.

Sept. 11
New Orleans at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Cleveland at Carolina, 1 p.m.
San Francisco at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
Philadelphia at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Indianapolis at Houston, 1 p.m.
New England at Miami, 1 p.m.
Baltimore at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.
Jacksonville at Washington, 1 p.m.
N.Y. Giants at Tennessee, 4:25 p.m.
Kansas City at Arizona, 4:25 p.m.
Las Vegas at L.A. Chargers, 4:25 p.m.
Green Bay at Minnesota, 4:25 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Dallas, 8:20 p.m.

Sept. 12
Denver at Seattle, 8:15 p.m.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) greets Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) after Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers host Chiefs in Week 4 for Brady-Mahomes VI

Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are scheduled to square off for the sixth time when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Kansas City Chiefs in October.

The Week 4 game was released by the NFL on Thursday morning before the complete schedule announcement later in the day.

The same teams — and quarterbacks — last met in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in February 2021 when Brady and the Buccaneers prevailed 31-9.

Brady is 3-2 in the all-time series with Mahomes.

The next matchup is scheduled for Oct. 2 and will air in prime time on NBC as the “Sunday Night Football” Week 4 nightcap.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; A general overall view of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with the British and the United States flags on the field during the playing of the national anthem before the  NFL International Series game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs and Seahawks to play NFL’s first game in Germany

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 13 in the NFL’s first regular-season game in Germany.

The NFL announced the international schedule for the 2022 season Wednesday, including three games in England in October and one in Mexico in November.

The Buccaneers and Seahawks will play at 9:30 a.m. ET at Allianz Arena in Munich.

The New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings will meet on Oct. 2 and the Green Bay Packers will take on the New York Giants on Oct. 9, with both games at 9:30 a.m. ET at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars will play at London’s Wembley Stadium on Oct. 30, also at 9:30 a.m. ET.

On Nov. 21, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers will clash on “Monday Night Football” at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

The Broncos-Jaguars game will be the first NFL contest broadcast on ESPN+.

–Field Level Media