Does Rob Gronkowski make the Buccaneers a legitimate Super Bowl contender?

Rob Gronkowski, Fantasy Football
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After acquiring quarterback Tom Brady earlier this offseason, many fans and pundits already anointed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as Super Bowl favorites in the NFC, and for good reason.

In Tampa, Brady has arguably the best wide receiver duo in the NFL with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus he’ll be working with one of the best and most consistent offensive minds in football in head coach Bruce Arians.

As if the Bucs offense wasn’t already loaded with talent, the team went out and traded for recently retired tight end Rob Gronkowski, seemingly out of nowhere. Gronk and Brady have a long history together from their time in New England and it should translate well in the Florida weather.

With the addition of this future Hall of Famer, it feels like Tampa Bay has really put a strangle hold on the NFC contention conversation. They’ve come from the depths of the NFC South to steel the spotlight, but will it all pan out once teams actually start playing football?

Gronk dealt with numerous injuries throughout his career, and they all appeared to catch up with him during his final season in New England. He started in just 11 games, catching only 47 balls for 682 yards and just three touchdowns.

That isn’t a terrible output, but it’s not up to the Hall of Fame standards set by Gronk earlier in his career. But, the year off may have given him enough time to fully heal from all the bumps and bruises he sustained througout his playing career.

With the addition of Gronk comes the question of what the team plans to do with last year’s starting tight end O.J. Howard. A former first round pick, Howard has never truly reached his potential in the NFL. But, he’s only 25-years-old and still on his rookie deal, so keeping him around to learn behind Gronk and get some playing time in certain sets may be a good route to take for Tampa.

Nevertheless, this is a very interesting move for Tampa and one fans from around the league will keep an eye on during the season. If the year off served Gronk well and he comes in fully healthy, the Bucs have the best group of skill position players in the entire league, and it’s not even close.