Feb 10, 2021; Tampa Bay, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski arrives for a boat parade to celebrate victory in Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski catches ball dropped from 600 feet, sets record

Rob Gronkowski has added a title to that of four-time Super Bowl champion: holder of a Guinness world record.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end is back at his college stomping grounds at Arizona this weekend, serving as an honorary coach for the Wildcats in their spring game on Saturday. And on Friday night, he did a little showing off, setting the record for the “highest altitude catch of an American football.”

A helicopter that hovered 600 field about the field at Arizona Stadium dropped balls down to the turf, and Gronkowski, looking into a bright sky, caught the third one. He broke the record of 563 set by Tyler Toney in Texas for the “Dude Perfect” video series on YouTube.

Gronkowski, who turns 32 next month, played two seasons at Arizona, 2007-08. His opposing honorary coach on Saturday is Tedy Bruschi, like Gronkowski a former member of the New England Patriots. He played for the Wildcats from 1991-95.

–Field Level Media

Feb 10, 2021; Tampa Bay, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski arrives for a boat parade to celebrate victory in Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

TE Rob Gronkowski re-signs with Buccaneers

Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Tight end Rob Gronkowski is ready to run it back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Super Bowl champions confirmed Monday that they had re-signed Gronkowski to a contract.

The team did not divulge the terms of the deal, however agent Drew Rosenhaus told NFL Network and ESPN last week that the sides agreed to a one-year contract. The Athletic and NFL Network reported that the contract will pay Gronkowski $8 million and includes the opportunity to earn another $2 million in incentives.

“In addition to his contributions on the field, Gronk has quickly become one of the most beloved guys in our locker room,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said. “His ability to perform at a championship-caliber level week after week, while also uplifting everyone around him, makes him an invaluable presence in our building. Rob’s accomplishments speak for themselves and make him one of the greatest to ever play the game at his position. We are thrilled to have him back with us as we pursue another title in Tampa.”

Gronkowski, 31, came out of retirement before the 2020 season to reunite with former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Tampa. The Buccaneers’ title last month gave Brady a record seven Super Bowl titles while Gronkowski won his fourth.

A four-time All-Pro, Gronkowski produced modest numbers by his standards in the 2020 regular season: 45 catches for 623 yards and seven touchdowns. In the Buccaneers’ first three playoff games, he totaled just two catches for 43 yards, but he was a key contributor in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs, making six receptions for 67 yards and two TDs in the 31-9 win.

The Brady-Gronkowski connection has accounted for 14 career playoff touchdowns, the top figure for any quarterback/pass-catcher duo in league history.

Gronkowski, selected by New England in the second round of the 2010 draft out of Arizona, played for the Patriots from 2010-18, compiling 521 catches for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. He topped the 1,000-yard receiving mark four times.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski before a NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Gronkowski jokes: ‘I came here to block, baby’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski decided to have a little fun at his own expense.

Gronkowski has been slow out of the blocks in terms of contributing to the Buccaneers’ offense, with his four targets resulting in just two catches for 11 yards.

That’s likely not the impact he envisioned through two games when he ended a one-year retirement to reunite with quarterback Tom Brady. With that said, Gronkowski tried to have a little fun on Friday when discussing his slow start.

“I’m a blocking tight end. I came here to block, baby,” the 31-year-old Gronkowski said Friday. “Four targets is four more than I thought I was gonna get.”

Gronkowski’s comment comes on the heels of coach Bruce Arians’ statement earlier in the week that drew some headlines.

“We’re not throwing the ball 50 times to tight ends — that’s what we have receivers for (and) that’s the way our offense is built,” Arians said. “Gronk’s playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I’m not concerned with his pass catches or his targets.

“We haven’t had that many red-zone opportunities, and I don’t see him running 40 yards past people anymore. If we get him press coverage, hopefully he can. We brought him in to just play tight end. If that means no catches, it means no catches. If it means 10 catches, it means 10 catches because he’s open and that’s where the ball goes.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 4, 2020; Tampa, Florida,USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) practices at AdventHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Arians: Gronk looks like he did ‘5 or 6 years ago’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski looks like a new man in the eyes of head coach Bruce Arians.

After all, Gronkowski is no longer wearing his bulky elbow brace, and the one-year retirement appears to have added some pep in his step.

“No similarities at all. He looks like he was five or six years ago before all the injuries,” Arians said on Thursday of the 31-year-old Gronkowski. “The back surgeries have healed, so he had a year of healing. He looks to me like he was five or six years ago.

“… He’s moving. He’s running fast again. He’s got great body control. Some of the things — the stiffness that I saw at the end of his career with all the injuries — it looks like it’s gone.”

Arians isn’t the only one singing the praises of the 6-foot-6 Gronkowski, who is a future Hall of Famer with 521 career catches for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns.

“I think the most amazing thing about Gronk is that as big of a guy he is, he’s athletic. He can do a lot of things. He’s got some quick-twitch movements,” Tampa Bay tight ends coach Rick Christophel said. “Everything that you’ve seen being in the league and seeing him play, getting to watch him on film, getting to watch him on television — I think the most important thing is it matters to him. He loves it. He has fun. He loves to play the game and he has fun out there, but it matters to him.

“When he makes a mistake, it hurts him and like Tom (Brady), he wants to win. I think that’s a big component of what makes his personality.”

Gronkowski admitted it took some time to get adjusted to his new surroundings.

“Definitely no regrets,” Gronkowski said. “I’m here, I’m supposed to be here — I feel like I’m supposed to be here. That’s definitely in the past and I’m here to play football now. I’m glad to be here. Going out there and just playing ball — it feels good. Let me tell you, the first couple practices, it definitely felt weird. …

“As time goes on and as the days go on, I feel better about myself being out there. My confidence keeps going up, the game is slowing down, I’m starting to pick up the offense more. But overall, it’s going good. I have so much more to work on and so much more to improve on, but I am really glad to be here.”

–Field Level Media