Gronkowski among favorites to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year

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May 7th, 2020

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went from an afterthought to the biggest draw in the NFL, with the addition of Tom Brady back in March. The hype reached a fever pitch when Tampa brought in Brady’s former tight end, Rob Gronkowski, April 21.

As a result of these moves, the Bucs have dropped to +1400 to win the Super Bowl (fifth choice), and Gronkowski temporarily became favored to win AP Comeback Player of the Year, before he settled at +325, just behind Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (+250).

Let’s dive into the Comeback Player of the Year market and see if Gronk is the best bet, or if someone else stands out.

2020-2021 AP Comeback Player of the Year odds

PlayerComeback Player of the Year Odds
Ben Roethlisberger
Rob Gronkowski
JJ Watt
Matthew Stafford
AJ Green

Gronkowski has won the award before

Gronkowski has already won the Comeback Player of the Year Award, back in 2014. He played only seven games the previous season, because of a forearm infection and a subsequent ACL tear.

Although he started just 10 games in 2014, Gronkowski approached his 2011 career-highs, with 1,124 yards and 11 touchdowns on 82 receptions.

Unfortunately for Gronk, the injury bug has never let up on him. He missed 14 games over the last four seasons, plus the entire 2016 Super Bowl push, which precipitated his early retirement, after the 2018 campaign. But Gronkowski is apparently rejuvenated and ready for a new challenge in Tampa Bay.

Gronk has benefited from his time away from the game

"He really needed a break — physically and mentally," agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN. "He … played injured pretty much the entire (2018) season — he was never truly himself. He’s a team player. His time off really reinvigorated him physically. He tells me he feels fantastic — the best he’s ever felt."

Only one other player has won the award twice

If Gronkowski wins Comeback Player of the Year, he’ll join Chad Pennington (2006 and 2008) as the only players to win the award twice, since the award was resurrected in 1998. Diving further into the history of the award, 13 quarterbacks have won it since 1998, including Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck for the last two seasons.

Big Ben is a better bet

Based on the history, Roethlisberger is a better bet to bring this award. Big Ben, despite being 37 years old, is just one a removed from his career-high in passing yards (5,129), which led the NFL in 2018. He also tossed a career-high 34 touchdowns.

Though Antonio Brown is no longer in the fold, Roethlisberger has some potent perimeter weapons in JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson.

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