“I am so grateful for the opportunity that Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Coach [Bill] Belichick gave to me when drafting my silliness in 2010,” Gronkowski wrote on Instagram. “My life experiences over the last 9 years have been amazing both on and off the field.”
Gronkowski, 29, caught 47 passes for 682 yards and scored three touchdowns during the 2018 regular season. He missed 29 regular season games during his career with the Patriots, sustaining injuries to his forearm, a torn ACL/MCL and multiple back surgeries, among others.
“Now its time to move forward and move forward with a big smile knowing that the New England Patriots Organization, Pats Nation, and all my fans will be truly a big part of my heart for rest of my life,” he added.
The 6-foot-6, 265-pound tight end commented on the toll football takes on the body, prior to the Patriots’ win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53.
"The season is a grind. It's up and down. I'm not going to lie and sit here and say every week is the best. Not at all. You go up. You go down. You can take some serious hits," Gronkowski said. "Try to imagine getting hit all the time and trying to be where you want to be every day in life. It's tough. It's difficult. To take hits to the thigh, to take hits to your head, abusing your body, isn't what your brain wants. When your body is abused, it can bring down your mood. You have to be able to deal with that, too, throughout the season. You have to be able to deal with that going into games."
Over the course of his nine-year career, he won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, was selected to five Pro Bowls and earned more than $50 million.