By Tom Schad


USA TODAY


Rob Gronkowski wants to play football again.


More specifically, he wants to continue playing with Tom Brady.


Now, he'll get his wish.


The 30-year-old is set to come out of retirement in conjunction with a trade that will send his contractual rights from the New England Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his new team confirmed Tuesday. The Buccaneers, of course, signed Brady in March.


The Patriots agreed to send Gronkowski and a seventh-round draft pick to Tampa Bay in exchange for a fourth-rounder.


"Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in NFL history and he plays the game with the type of passion and desire that sets him apart," Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. "Rob has played his entire career alongside Tom Brady and their accomplishments speak for themselves. Together they have developed the type of chemistry on and off the field that is crucial to success. Rob combines elite-level skills as both a receiver and blocker but what really makes him special is the fact that he's a proven winner who brings that championship mindset and work ethic."


News of the proposed trade — and Gronkowski's impending return — came a little more than 48 hours before the start of this year's NFL draft, which is slated to begin Thursday night.


Gronkowski had repeatedly left open the possibility of an NFL return, even as he dabbled in startup ventures, media engagements and, most recently, professional wrestling. Coincidentally, he was asked Monday whether there were any active discussions about him reuniting with Brady in Tampa.


"You want to know what's so great man? The day that I retired, within 24 hours there was already rumors that I was coming out of retirement," Gronkowski said during an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen."


"I'm feeling good right now, I'm happy where I'm at. And you just never know, man. You just never know. You never know. I'm not totally done."


Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht was asked earlier this month about the possibility of acquiring Gronkowski and noted that the Patriots still hold the five-time Pro Bowl tight end's rights.


"Well, he's doing a pretty good job with WrestleMania right now," Licht said a little less than two weeks ago. "I have no idea if he would want to play."


Now, it appears that question has been answered.


While it might seem unusual, there is some precedent for this type of move. In 2017, running back Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement and was traded from Seattle to Oakland.


Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.