FOXBOROUGH - When Rob Gronkowski announced that he was retiring during the 2019 NFL off-season, the decision seemed final to many. Gronk immediately began living his best life off the field, including a slew of appearances at all sorts of events. People asked Gronk from time to time if he was considering a return to the New England Patriots, but he always downplayed the idea. Sure, he might exist with the organization in some capacity, akin to the way Pedro Martinez hangs out with the Boston Red Sox, but the playing days seemed to be behind Gronk. He even won the ESPY Award for Best Moment for his long career and retirement!

And yet, Gronk will forever be unpredictable. As training camp rapidly approaches for the Patriots, the rumor mill has kicked back into high gear as Gronk doesn't seem to be ready to hang up his cleats quite yet.

NFL experts such as Jay Glazer have floated the idea that Gronk might not be able to stay away from the sport he excelled at for so long. Glazer believes that Gronk would not come out of retirement at the beginning of the season, but he might change his mind once the post-season rolls around, should the Patriots qualify.

Gronkowski himself added fuel to the fire on the ESPYs red carpet while chatting with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. ESPN cameras on the carpet seemed to pick up distant audio of the tight end saying, "Yeah, I'm coming back" to Brees. Was it about football? A golf club the two meet at? Who can tell.

The most damning evidence, however, is the fact that Gronk has joined the rotating cast of receiving targets (including Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry) who are training with Tom Brady by catching passes from him at one of the quarterback's famed throwing sessions. Coupling this with the knowledge that Gronk has been working out with receiver Josh Gordon, and it seems like the return of Gronk is a matter of when and not if.

Image via Flickr / Brook Ward