Rob Gronkowski May Not Be The Best Tight End In NFL History; Who Is The 14x Pro Bowl TE Who Could Put Gronk To Shame?

Published 06/22/2022, 3:25 PM EDT
MIAMI, FL – DECEMBER 09: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots looks on against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The retirement of former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski has put him into a conversation with some amazing players in his position. While his achievements with the Patriots and the Buccaneers are noteworthy, Gronk is possibly in the conversation of being a Top 5 TE in the history of the NFL.

However, the debate about his legitimacy to be the greatest TE remains up in the air, with some other legendary figures having impressive career statistics.


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Before the dominant displays of Gronk and Travis Kelce, the league had two amazing TEs in two Hall of Famers. While both players are well-respected players in the NFL, their career statistics and winning records have split fans over the years.

Where do Tony Gonzalez and Shannon Sharpe rank among the NFL TEs?

Many NFL purists see Gonzalez as the gold standard for the TE position, while Gronk and Sharpe rank as the ultimate winners from the position. Despite his 14 Pro Bowl selections in his 17-year NFL career, the former Chiefs TE never managed to capture a Super Bowl title.

KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 05: Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Kansas City Chiefs walks off the field after a game against the Denver Broncos on October 5, 2003 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

While missing only 2 games throughout his NFL career, Gonzalez was a productive and dependable source. His reliability throughout his career puts him above any TE. The Chiefs legend ended up retiring in 2013.


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Sharpe is among the most successful TE players and was again a consistent producer for all his NFL franchises. In his 14-year NFL career, the former Ravens TE earned 8 Pro Bowl selections. He also won 3 Super Bowl titles in his career. Despite entering his late 30s, he was still one of the premier pass-catchers in the NFL. Sharpe hung up his boots after his retirement in 2003.

Is Rob Gronkowski the greatest TE in NFL history?

While he has been the most successful TE, Gronk might not be the best NFL TE because of his poor injury record. Gonzalez and Sharpe hold the advantage over Gronk over reliability and durability over the years. The different surgeries on his body have hampered Gronk’s case.


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However, the former Buccaneers TE was an anomaly in his position. Gronk was a man amongst boys during many NFL outings throughout his NFL career.

TAMPA, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 07: Rob Gronkowski #87 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reacts after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31-9. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

While he might not be the greatest TEs in the NFL, the 5-time Pro Bowler ranks high among fans. With his retirement in 2022, the franchise will be searching for his successor. The franchise might remain in wait until he possibly might decide to un-retire.


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Who, according to you, is the greatest TE of all time? Let us know in the comments!



Anuj Tazhatuveetil

807 articles

An NFL author at EssentiallySports, Anuj Tazhatuveetil is pursuing a Master's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Initially, he worked as a freelance content writer and later as a part of Sports404. An unquenchable thirst to learn about all things NFL and NBA, adding to a rather healthy obsession with playing outdoor sports like basketball, and soccer with an almost encyclopedic knowledge of this industry make him a sports aficionado.