FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rob Gronkowski is returning to football, but not in the way most New England Patriots fans would like.

Fox Sports announced Tuesday that the retired tight end will join the network as an NFL analyst. Gronkowski will make his debut on Thursday when the Patriots take on the New York Giants. He will join Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Michael Strahan and Tony Gonzalez as well as NFL insider Peter Schrager on the pregame show at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m extremely excited to be joining FOX Sports,” Gronkowski said. “For the past 25 years, they’ve offered viewers top-notch NFL programming from the field to the booth to the studio. Their deep talent roster is unmatched, which was important for me as I embark on this new chapter in my life because I’ll be able to learn from the best in the business.”

“We’re thrilled Rob chose FOX Sports for the next phase of his football life,” said Brad Zager, Executive Producer and Executive Vice President, Head of Production and Operations, FOX Sports.””He is one of the most popular players to ever play the game and also one of the best tight ends in NFL history. His passion for the game and larger-than-life personality make him a perfect fit for FOX Sports.”

After retiring from football this year, there’s been a lot of speculation about Gronkowski’s next move. Some have even speculated that Gronkowski might return, which would give the Patriots a nice offensive boost.

In August, the 30-year-old started to work with a CBD oil company, Abacus Health Products, a Toronto-based company. During a media tour, Gronkowski didn’t rule out returning to football, but said he’d have to be in the right frame of mind after dealing with a laundry list of injuries during his nine-year career with the Patriots.

In the event Gronkowski does return, the Patriots hold his rights as he was signed through this season.

BEN WATSON isn’t in the Patriots current plans, but it seems like that could change.

On Tuesday, Coach Bill Belichick kept the door open for a Watson return after the team released the veteran tight end on Monday.

“(I) like Ben. We just don’t have a roster for him right now,” Belichick said. “Maybe that will change, but for the moment, that’s where it is.”

Watson was serving a four-game suspension after failing a test for performance enhancing drugs. He was eligible to play last weekend in Washington, but the Patriots were able to keep him off the 53-man roster due to an NFL roster exemption, which lasted until Monday at 4 p.m.

The 38-year-old wants to keep playing, but it remains to be seen if he’ll get another chance with some other team or perhaps, back with the Patriots at a later date. For now, Belichick will keep two tight ends on his roster with Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo. He said he likes both young tight ends.

“They’re both younger players that are developing,” Belichick said. “We feel like they have some upside, done a decent job for us. Have a ways to go, but have had enough production that we want to keep working with them.”

If he doesn’t play again, Watson will finish his career with 530 career catches for 5,885 yards and 44 touchdowns in 13 seasons.

WITH ONLY a few days between games, the Patriots went without pads for Tuesday’s practice. After being listed as a non-participant Monday, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett – who is dealing with a hamstring injury –was spotted during warmups on the field during the portion of practice that was open to media. However, Dorsett did not appear to be as active as some of his other teammates during the warmups.

Also present at practice were dinged-up receivers Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman, as well as Rex Burkhead, who missed Sunday’s game with a foot injury.

TOM BRADY and Jimmy Garappolo once shared a quarterback room in Foxborough. Now they’re leading the only two remaining undefeated teams in the NFL.

After Tom Brady and the Patriots beat Washington to move to 5-0 Sunday, the third quarterback in that meeting room, Jacoby Brissett, led the Indianapolis Colts to a win over previously undefeated Kansas City.

That left San Francisco, coming off a bye, as the only other undefeated team in the league heading into Monday Night Football against the Cleveland Browns.
Garoppolo continued his team’s strong start. He led the Niners to a 31-3 win at home.

 

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