Patriots owner: Rob Gronkowski's status not 'an issue'

When it comes to the future of star tight end Rob Gronkowski in New England, Robert Kraft is at peace.

The Patriots owner is aware that Gronkowski openly contemplated retirement after New England's Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, but everything Kraft's seen and heard from the playmaker suggests a return to the field in 2018.

"It's not even an issue for me," Kraft told Jeff Howe of The Athletic. "I didn't know about it until I read about it in the paper. I saw [Gronkowski recently at Gillette Stadium]. We have a fun, good relationship. He is one of the most up people I know. I was impressed that he was coming in late and doing whatever he had to do to make himself feel right and get his body right."

Gronkowski wasn't the only player pondering tomorrow after that grueling Super Bowl defeat. The Athletic noted that 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady "also appeared conflicted about his future at the conclusion of his Tom vs. Time documentary."

"I think [Gronkowski] is the best tight end in the game, maybe in the history of the game, so we're privileged to have a quarterback [in Brady] and tight end in those positions," Kraft said. "I do believe, though, people feel differently [after a loss]. That was a tough loss. We'll let things sort out and see what happens."

Along with the retirement whispers, Gronkowski's name popped up in a flurry of offseason trade chatter. That was never a serious consideration for the Patriots, though, with NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo noting the team never engaged in trade talks over their monstrous tight end.

Amid all the retirement talk and trade rumors, Kraft -- in his third decade as an NFL owner -- has learned to roll with the punches.

"Look, things can change, but I've been dealing with this for 24 years," Kraft said. "It's always something. My job is to try to keep things cool, have continuity and attract the best people. And we've done OK over the last 24 years from where we were the [previous] 35. I can't predict everything that is going to happen. There are acts of God. Anyone could be in a car accident, so we have to develop contingency plans for everything -- coaching, players. But I'm optimistic about the future."

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