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Gronk: I wouldn't be here without Belichick, Kraft

Upon retiring last spring, Rob Gronkowski was walking away from the only NFL head coach, owner and team he'd ever played for. While his return reunites him with longtime teammate Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, it also marks another farewell from the Patriots.

On Thursday, Gronk took to Instagram to give thanks to Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and everyone else he left behind in New England.

"First and foremost, I want to thank the Patriots Organization for everything over the last 10 years," Gronkowski wrote. "Without Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick taking a chance on me in the 2010 draft, I wouldn't be sitting here in this position in life, THANK YOU both as well my former teammates for everything over the years.

"New England Patriot Fans, you guys have been nothing but amazing. I love you guys and appreciate your constant support for me big time over the last 10 years (even during retirement). THANK YOU all so much, the memories are incredible #PatsNation."

The kind words come one day after Gronk held a video conference detailing his comeback and ensuing trade to the Buccaneers, in which he admitted playing for the Patriotswasn't always easy. The move to Tampa figures to provide a fresh start in more ways than one.

Still just 30 years old, the All-Decade tight end is hoping a year off will be exactly what he needed after years of wear and tear. His three touchdowns in 2018 were a career low and his 47 receptions were the second fewest of any campaign in which he played at least 10 games.

Gronkowski maintained throughout last year's layoff that he was open to eventually playing football again after giving his body a break. He reiterated that sentiment Thursday while expressing enthusiasm for his new team.

"I said it from the beginning that I wouldn't come back to the game unless I'm feeling it, feeling healthy, and feeling ready to play," Gronkowski wrote. "Taking a year off was hands down the best decision I made, not just in my career, but also for my health and well-being, and I would do that all over again.

"And now my fire is back."

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