Gronkowski, who retired prior to the 2019 season, had until that day at 4 p.m. ET to apply for reinstatement from the NFL’s reserve/retired list. League rules allow for players to return to action so long as they re-apply before Week 13.
With the deadline expired, Gronkowski would not be able to return to the field until the 2020 season at the earliest. A nine-year NFL veteran, Gronkowski earned more than $53 million in salary during his time with the Patriots.
Gronkowski, 30, repeatedly said he had no plans to attempt a comeback in 2019. However, Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Gronkowski last March that he wanted him back with the team ahead of the playoffs.
At present, Gronkowski is working as a studio analyst for FOX Sports’ NFL programming. He is also a celebrity endorser for Abacus Health’s CBDMedic Brand.
In order to return to the NFL at any point, Gronkowski would have to cut ties with the CBD brand. NFL rules prohibit active players from marijuana-related business deals, FOX Business reported.
Gronkowski said in August that while he would consider an NFL comeback “down the road,” he had no immediate plans to come out of retirement.
"Physically, I could play right now, but mentally, it's not there," he said at the time.
The Patriots lead the AFC East division with a 10-2 record but have dealt with a slew of injuries and mishaps on offense in recent weeks. The team cut star wide receiver Antonio Brown in September after just one game as he faced multiple allegations of sexual assault and waived another wide receiver, Josh Gordon, in October.
Another top target, Mohamed Sanu, has battled an ankle injury since he was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons that same month.
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