With Ben Watson getting released earlier this week and Matt LaCosse going down with a knee injury during Thursday’s game against the New York Giants, the New England Patriots are down to one tight end on their depth chart: Ryan Izzo. 

The Patriots need some help at the position, and owner Robert Kraft could only “pray and hope” that Rob Gronkowski decides to come out of retirement this season. Prior to Gronk making his debut as an analyst on FOX Sports, Kraft appeared on NFL Network's NFL Gameday Kickoff to express his optimism that the five-time Pro Bowler could return to his former team. 

“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." 

Even though Gronkowski announced his retirement in March, he has always kept the door open on the possibility of making a comeback. In an interview with Ian Rapaport last month, Gronk suggested that he would cave into the idea of a return to football if his desire to come back became too strong to ignore. 

“My soul would have to be on fire, and I wouldn't just listen to it for one day,” he said. “It would have to be a consistent basis, too."

During Fox's pregame show on Thursday, Gronkowski was asked about Kraft's recent comments. "I would have to be feeling it, feeling it big-time to come back," he said about the possibility of him returning to play in the NFL, according to ESPN. "It's always going to be open in my mind. ... I love the game of football. I love playing the game. I love being around the game. I even love watching the game of football now."

A big aspect that went into Gronkowski's decision to retire was the long list of injuries he dealt with throughout his nine-year NFL career, and in August, he advocated for CBD for professional athletes, claiming, "For the first time in a decade, I’m pain-free."

At a @cbdmedic_pharma press conference in NYC, ex-#Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski comes out as a CBD advocate: “I’m here to appeal to the sports governing bodies to update their positions on CBD (so it can be) used by all players. ... For the first time in a decade, I’m pain-free.” pic.twitter.com/DClum5mbe2

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 27, 2019