Gronkowski spent nine seasons with the Patriots and won three Super Bowls with the team. He had made himself clear that he wouldn’t play with another quarterback before he was traded.
“First and foremost, I want to thank the Patriots Organization for everything over the last 10 years. Without Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Coach [Bill] 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,” Gronkowski wrote Thursday with a photo of himself holding up his Super Bowl rings alongside his girlfriend Camille Kostek.
“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.”
The tight end said he’s excited for a new opportunity with the Buccaneers.
“I am beyond excited for this new chapter in my life," he wrote. "It’s an opportunity I will certainly not take for granted. I said it from the beginning that I wouldn’t come back to the game unless I’m feeling it, feeling healthy, and feeling ready to play. Taking a year off was hands down the best decision I made, not just in my career, but also for my health and well-being, and I would do that all over again.
“And now my fire is back. I am grateful for this new chapter of my career. 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!!!”
While Brady will have plenty of targets to throw to in Tampa Bay, it is clear that Gronkowski is his favorite. Brady has 541 touchdown passes throughout his entire career. He threw 78 of them to Gronkowski, the most out of any of the receivers and running backs he’s played with.
In 115 games played, Gronkowski has caught 79 career touchdown passes. He sits third all-time behind Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates for most by a tight end. Depending on how long he is in Tampa Bay, if at all, he could be breaking the 100-touchdown mark with Brady in Florida.