NFL Coaching Legend Believes Gronk Will Return to Patriots

Retired tight end Rob Gronkowski supposedly is moving onto his "next chapter," which we'll hear about in an upcoming press conference.

But those in NFL circles are reading different writing on the wall.

Speaking to The Boston Globe's Ben Volin on Tuesday, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Bill Cowher joined a chorus of current and former NFL players and coaches who believe Gronkowski will return to the New England Patriots before season's end.

And to Cowher, Gronkowski's July workout session with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at UCLA was a sign that the (former) tight end is at least staying in the loop.

"They just happened to be in the same city at the same time," Cowher told Volin. "It's funny how that worked out."

"I have a hard time believing that Tom and Gronk haven't talked, just from the standpoint of, ‘Let's see how this thing unfolds, and to stay in shape,' " Cowher added.

Brady did acknowledge recently that Gronkowski's immense talent is irreplaceable. The Patriots are also glaringly weak at tight end: Their options behind 38-year-old Ben Watson, who's suspended for the first four games, are guys like Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo and recent pickups Lance Kendricks and Eric Saubert.

If none of those players pan out, it's certainly plausible Brady gives Gronkowski a call at some point during the regular season. But the 30-year-old has slimmed down considerably in retirement, so would a mid-season return even be plausible?

Cowher says yes.

"(Gronkowski) doesn't need training camp," Cowher added. "He knows the terminology. The biggest thing will be getting in football shape. But what's football shape if you're only playing 25-30 snaps a game?

"I would not discount him coming back at any point in the season."

Join the club, Bill.

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