In an unexpected twist after Sunday night’s Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, star Patriots tight end Rob Gronwski did not commit to returning next season, saying that he’s going to “look at [his] future.”
Gronkowski was asked what would make him decide to retire.
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“I’m not ready for these type of questions right now,” Gronkowski said. “I’m just going to sit down, reflect on the season, talk to my teammates.”
This past week quarterback Tom Brady made clear that he wants to keep playing — but after the game he also did not give a 100 percent guarantee that he’d return.
“I expect to be back, so we’ll see,” he said. “I mean, it’s 15 minutes after the game ended, so I’d like process this a little bit. I wouldn’t see why I wouldn’t be back.”
The Patriots are already expected to lose some key players.
Running back Dion Lewis, the team’s leading rusher during the regular season, will be a free agent, as will be wide receiver Danny Amendola — who led the team Sunday with 152 receiving yards.
The Patriots could also lose cornerback Malcolm Butler to free agency. New England got a preview of life without Butler Sunday. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the Patriots coaching staff decided not to play Butler in the Super Bowl — and the defense struggled without him, allowing Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles to throw for 373 yards and three touchdowns.
The Patriots’ biggest losses may come from the coaching ranks. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia — who have both been in those roles for the Patriots’ last three Super Bowl appearances — are expected to take head coaching jobs with other teams.
New England will likely get two of its best players back from injuries — wide receiver Julian Edelman and pro bowl linebacker Dont’a Hightower.
And with Bill Belichick expected to return as head coach, Las Vegas has already deemed the Patriots early favorites to win next year’s Super Bowl.