Gronkowski says he's back next season

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Breathe easy, Patriots Nation, Rob Gronkowski will return for the 2018 season. While they are voluntary, teams would prefer everyone showed up.

However, earlier this week, Brady put fans at ease when his agent.

He's committed to play in 2018, but who knows beyond that? On Thursday, Bill Belichick and his staff head into the NFL Draft with two selections in the opening round.

Although Rob Gronkowski said he's returning for 2018, the Pats could also look to draft his potential replacement.

Considering the uncertainty with his long-term future, the Patriots could be in position to add another tight end. He has had numerous surgeries on his back in addition to knee and forearm issues.

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Gronkowski now has two years left on his deal.

Gronkowski has been dominant when he has been on the field. He finished the 2017 season with 69 catches, surpassing the 1,000 yard mark for the fourth time in his career.

The one who will be hard to replace: running back Dion Lewis. Knowing their all-world tight end is coming back for at least one more season has to bring joy to their eyes.

He missed two games in the regular season - one because of a thigh injury and one due to National Football League suspension - and was knocked out of the AFC Championship Game with a concussion. Troy Niklas, Will Tye and Jacob Hollister are all on the roster as well. Although Belichick has developed a reputation of turning nothing into something, it's hard to see the offense making serious noise without Gronkowski.

"I'm not ready for these type of questions right now", Gronkowski said in the postgame news conference. This news allows the Patriots to focus on other positions of need such as tackle, cornerback, linebacker and of course finding Tom Brady's replacement.