Twenty-Nine Days and A Retirement At Twenty-Nine

Twenty-nine days to the NFL Hall of Fame Game and for our 29 NFL fact  we look at one of the top players at their position that retired at age 29 this year.

Tight End Rob Gronkowski or “Gronk” retired from football on March 24th 2019 at age 29. Gronk has not played as long as some of the all time great tight ends. However his statistics puts him in the conversation of the best tight ends of all time. All statistics discussed here pertain only to tight ends.

  • In receiving yards per game Gronk is all time number one with 68.4 yards. He holds the Super Bowl record for most receiving yards by a tight end with 116 yards in Super Bowl LII for the 2017 season  against the Eagles. Gronk is tie for first among tight ends with Tony Gonzales and Jason Witten for most 1000+ yard receiving seasons with four.
  • Catch percentage is not available for all the tight ends. For the ones it is available only Tony Gonzales (65.9%) and Jason Witten (71.1%)  are the top tight ends with a better catch percentage than Gronk’s 65.6%.
  • In receptions per game Gronk is seventh all time as shown in the following table.
Player From To Tm G Rec Rec/game
Travis Kelce 2013 2018 KAN 80 410 5.1250
Jordan Reed 2013 2018 WAS 65 329 5.0615
Kellen Winslow* 1979 1987 SDG 109 541 4.9633
Tony Gonzalez* 1997 2013 TOT 270 1325 4.9074
Jason Witten 2003 2017 DAL 239 1152 4.8201
Zach Ertz 2013 2018 PHI 91 437 4.8022
Rob Gronkowski 2010 2018 NWE 115 521 4.5304
Kellen Winslow 2004 2013 TOT 105 469 4.4667
Jimmy Graham 2010 2018 TOT 137 611 4.4599
Antonio Gates 2003 2018 SDG 236 955 4.0466
Jeremy Shockey 2002 2011 TOT 136 547 4.0221
Shannon Sharpe* 1990 2003 TOT 204 815 3.9951
  • In receiving touchdowns Gronk is third all-time. If we look at receiving touchdowns per game he is first among tight ends as shown in the following table. Gronk leads all tight ends in seasons with 10+ receiving touchdowns with five such seasons. He also holds the record for the most touchdowns by a tight end in a season with 17 touchdowns in 2011.
Rk Player Games Tds TD / Game
1 Rob Gronkowski 115 79 0.6870
2 Jimmy Graham 137 71 0.5182
3 Julius Thomas 71 36 0.5070
4 Antonio Gates 236 116 0.4915
5 Harold Carmichael 182 79 0.4341
6 Jim Mutscheller 95 40 0.4211
7 Kellen Winslow* 109 45 0.4128
8 Tony Gonzalez* 270 111 0.4111
9 Travis Kelce 80 32 0.4000
10 Bernie Casey 105 40 0.3810
  • Over the last 25 seasons Gronk has the highest receiving yards per target (9.9 yards) and yards per reception (15.1 yards)  among all tight ends that were selected to at least one All-Pro First Team.
  • Gronk has been selected to more All-Pro First Teams per season than any other tight end  (44.4%).
  • Gronk is regarded as one of the top blocking tight ends in the modern era. Bill Belichick regarded Mark Bavaro as the best blocking tight end he had seen. He then has high regard for Gronk and says – “He can do a lot of things that I haven’t had many guys, I’d say, other than Bavaro, be able to do”
  • Pro Football Reference assigns an approximate value to each player per season. Among tight ends Gronk has the highest AV per season.

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