Rob Gronkowski Will Not Return for Patriots’ Playoff Run

Rob Gronkowski really is retired, at least for this season.

The former New England Patriots tight end had dangled the possibility of returning to the N.F.L. almost as soon as he announced his retirement in March, a month after he helped the Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

Despite a long list of injuries during his nine-year career, all spent with New England, Gronkowski said in October that he loved football and would keep the door open to playing again someday. The Patriots, too, were welcoming.

The team’s owner, Robert K. Kraft, reportedly told Gronkowski after the retirement announcement that he wanted the tight end back in time for this year’s playoffs. For that to happen, Gronkowski needed to file paperwork before Week 13 of the season so that he could be taken off the team’s reserve list, but he missed the Nov. 30 deadline.

The Patriots (10-2) are tied for the A.F.C.’s best record but have struggled with a thin receiving corps this season. The team released the former Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown in September and the veteran Josh Gordon in October. For many years, Gronkowski was one of quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite targets.

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