NFL Rumors: Robert Kraft Hints That Rob Gronkowski Could Return To The Patriots

Rob Gronkowski could be coming back to the New England Patriots -- or so Robert Kraft hopes.

As the future Hall of Famer was set to make his debut as an analyst for Fox Sports on Thursday Night Football, the Patriots owner said he still has hopes that Gronkowski could return to the team. As reported, Kraft said before the game between the Patriots and New York Giants that Gronkowski never actually completed the formal steps to retire, leaving some hope that he could be back to the team at some point in the future.

"We all love Gronk and I think the bottom line is he hasn't put his retirement papers in," Kraft said. "So we can always pray and hope.... That's a good academic argument that there is hope for us still with Gronk."

Rob Gronkowski announced in March that he was retiring from the NFL, an exit that had been rumored for close to two years as the tight end suffered through a series of serious injuries. He cited those injuries in announcing his retirement, but now appears to be doing much better, having lost 20 pounds, reported.

There have already been some other rumors that Gronkowski could be returning to the Patriots. Just before the start of the season, Patriots legend and Gronkowski's former teammate, Willie McGinest, took to Instagram to share a video of Gronkowski catching passes on the field at Gillette Stadium.

McGinest added the caption, "Major comebacks happening in foxboro," which led some fans to speculate that Gronkowski may be considering a return to the team, but instead McGinest was referring to the former players who returned for the unveiling of the team's sixth Super Bowl banner.

Just before Thursday's game, McGinest appeared to throw cold water back on those rumors, noting that Gronkowski has been keeping very busy and not enough time has passed for him to think about coming back to the game.

While he may not be playing again, Rob Gronkowski is set to make his return to the game. Thursday marks his debut as an analyst for Fox Sports, a role that many believe is well-suited to the affable tight end. Tom Brady said he was excited for his friend and former teammate's football debut.

"He'll be good. He's been pretty good at everything he's done," Brady told ESPN. "It's great to see a lot of our guys get a lot of great opportunities like that."