Rob Gronkowski Has Official Timeline for When He Can Return to the Patriots

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - FEBRUARY 03: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots runs after making a reception against the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)
Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams | Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has left the door ajar as to whether or not he will return to play football despite retiring after a triumph in Super Bowl LIII. Gronk has yet to file any formal retirement papers, so a comeback remains a possibility. In the meantime, however, he's approaching the hard deadline to make a return this season.

If the iconic tight end wants a chance to play for the Pats in the 2019 regular season and postseason, he will have to apply for reinstatement by December 7.

Gronkowski is currently on the league's reserve/retired list, which means he will have to decide whether or not he wants to be reinstated by New England's 13th game, which comes against the Kansas City Chiefs. Whether or not he'll decide to make a comeback by then, however, remains entirely up in the air.

The superstar tight end has been marred by injuries in his career, including multiple concussions. That plethora of ailments has forced Gronkowski to ponder whether playing football is still worth the overall risk.

The Patriots are most certainly missing Gronkowski this year. The team is incredibly thin at the tight end position, and has suffered major injuries on offense besides.

Not only was Gronkowski Tom Brady's favorite target, but he was also a fantastic blocker when called upon.

With Gronkowski working as an analyst for Fox, one would have to think that there's a major chance he doesn't play any football in 2019. He could very well take the Jason Witten approach and return to football after a year off, but that's all conjecture at this point.

Apart from anything that happens with the Patriots on the field, Gronkowski needs to make a decision that is right for him. He has to think about his life beyond football. Nothing should be considered more important than that.