Rob Gronkowski says he got Buccaneers playbook weeks before Patriots trade, later claims he was joking

Jack Baer
·Writer
·2 min read

Fresh off one rules controversy involving a playbook and a former member of the New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have just walked into another.

Newly signed Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski made an interesting revelation on Saturday during an appearance on Bud Light Seltzer’s “Drafterparty” while discussing quarterback Joe Burrow reportedly studying the Cincinnati Bengals’ playbook for weeks before the draft.

“I was in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers playbook four weeks ago, and I wasn’t even on the team,” Gronkowski said, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

Obviously, Gronkowski wasn’t a member of the Buccaneers on March 28, which was exactly four weeks prior to last Saturday. At that point, he was technically under contract with the Patriots and on the reserve/retired list, though Tom Brady had been an official member of the Buccaneers for a week.

As you might remember, Gronkowski would later tell the Patriots he would only return to football with the Bucs and Brady. He was eventually traded on April 21.

Gronk says he was joking

Gronkowski later tweeted that he was joking when saying he received the playbook, and that he had actually just received his playbook tablet from the Bucs on Wednesday.

The box reportedly remains unopened.

Is Rob Gronkowski receiving a playbook illegal?

Florio noted Gronkowski theoretically having another playbook in itself isn’t a rule violation, but a team giving a playbook to a player under contract with another team as part of an under-the-table recruiting pitch before he requested a trade sounds like something out of NBA land.

The Buccaneers were already raising some eyebrows when it emerged that Brady picked up his own playbook via a personal visit to the house of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

Some teams reportedly asked if Brady and Leftwich were breaking NFL rules with the meeting, but the NFL later clarified that the “brief personal visit” was fine. Even if Gronkowski was really joking, the league might want to get ready for another round of questioning.

MIAMI BEACH, FL - JANUARY 28:  Former NFL player and NFL Studio Analyst Rob Gronkowski  answers questions during the Super Bowl LIV FOX Sports Media Day on January 28, 2020 at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, FL.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Gronk having the Bucs playbook while technically being employed by the Patriots seems ... unusual. (Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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