Rob Gronkowski has been the best tight end in football for the past six seasons, but he might have been overtaken this season.
That is, of course, if you ask Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.
Irvin went on WEEI’s “Dale & Keefe” on Friday, and noted the New England Patriots tight end likely will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but he no longer is at the top of his class.
“But I give you this, I shall lay this upon you,” Irvin said, “I do believe that a man has snatched the top from Rob. Rob’s a bad boy, but I believe Travis Kelce now can truly say he’s probably the best tight end in the league.”
Irvin admitted that he thinks Kelce has jumped Gronk in large part due to the amount of talent the Kansas City Chiefs have around him.
“What’s around Travis Kelce has a lot to do with it. Just look at what everybody is doing right now. Every team comes in and says, ‘We’re going to double Gronk and make somebody else beat us.’ If they go in and say, ‘We’re going to double Travis Kelce and make somebody else beat us,’ they’ll say, ‘OK, no problem, I’ll beat you with Kareen Hunt. I’ll beat you with Sammy Watkins.’ So a lot of it has to do with what (Kelce) has around him, compared to what Gronk has around him.”
The Patriots’ lack of offensive weapons certainly has hampered Gronkowski and the rest of New England’s offensive players. Without Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola — both of whom found new homes in the offseason — and Julian Edelman (suspension), the Patriots’ passing game has struggled to get going through the first three weeks.
Kansas City, on the other hand, has been one of the NFL’s most electric offenses early in the season, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes has connected with Kelce 16 times for 229 yards and two scores.
Irvin isn’t the first person to suggest Gronk might have lost a step. Former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi suggested the Arizona product has gotten “slow,” and that’s caused him to struggle to get open.
Can Gronk and the 1-2 Patriots get back on track in Week 4 against the Miami Dolphins? If they don’t, it might be time to panic.
Thumbnail photo via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports Images