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Buccaneers HC Todd Bowles keeps it real on the challenge of replacing Rob Gronkowski

Buccaneers, Rob Gronkowski, Todd Bowles

There may never be another tight end like Rob Gronkowski in the NFL. For Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles, he well recognizes just how unique of a tight end Gronkowski was during his run in the league, which will make it quite a task to replace him this season.

After months of speculation, Gronkowski decided to officially call it a career in June. The Buccaneers left the door open for Gronkowski to return to the team during the offseason, but the four-time Super Bowl-winning tight end elected that it was best to instead put an end to his NFL run.

The Buccaneers were at the least prepared for the possibility of Gronkowski retiring ahead of the 2022 season. They selected a pair of tight ends in the 2022 NFL Draft with Cade Otton and Ko Kieft. Following Gronkowski’s retirement announcement, they opted to go out and sign Kyle Rudolph.

Adding Cameron Brate into the equation, the Buccaneers are set to have four tight ends available for quarterback Tom Brady. Bowles sees that none of these tight ends will “look like Gronk,” although he is “confident” that the team can replace the future Pro Football Hall of Famer’s production on offense.

“It doesn’t just have to come from that [tight end] group, it can come from the wide receivers and the running backs,” Bowles said during a press conference ahead of the Buccaneers’ Week 1 clash against the Dallas Cowboys. “As a group, between all of them, we’ll try to make up somehow for him.

“Nobody’s going to look like ‘Gronk,’ or even catch like ‘Gronk,’ and rumble down the field and run over people, but we have different skill sets that we can make up the catches for and I feel confident in that.”

It will be noteworthy to see on which tight end goes on to emerge as Brady’s go-to option at the position in the coming campaign. For now, the Buccaneers are set to kick off their regular season schedule with a road matchup against the Cowboys in Week 1, which will then be followed up by an NFC South showdown with the New Orleans Saints in Week 2.