Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski is a trendy favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors now that he’s ended his retirement to play alongside Tom Brady.
The Bucs acquired Gronkowski, who is listed at plus-300 on DraftKings and plus-400 on BetMGM Sportsbook, along with a seventh-round draft pick from the New England Patriots last month for a fourth-round pick from the New England Patriots.
A five-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time first-team All-Pro, Gronkowski totaled 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns across nine seasons for the Patriots from 2010-18. Along with one rushing touchdown, Gronkowski’s 80 scores are the most in Patriots history.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (DraftKings: plus-400; Bet MGM: plus-400) also could be in line for a strong return after playing just two games last season before undergoing elbow surgery on Sept. 24. Roethlisberger, 38, said last month he was throwing “pain free” for the first time in years.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, Washington Redskins QB Alex Smith and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt are all listed at plus-700 by DraftKings. Watt is plus-600 while Stafford and Smith are plus-1,400 on Bet MGM.
Stafford, 32, started 136 consecutive games before missing the final eight last year with an ailing back. He won the same award in 2011 after playing just three games in 2010.
Smith has been sidelined since November 2018 after sustaining a compound fracture of the right tibia and a fracture of the right fibula in a game against the Houston Texans. Smith, who turns 36 on Thursday, also suffered a serious infection that caused major complications. He had 17 surgeries.
A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watt underwent surgery on a torn pectoral muscle sustained in a game against the Oakland Raiders on Oct. 27. Watt, 31, returned for an AFC wild-card game against the visiting Buffalo Bills on Jan. 4.
If you’re looking for long shots, DraftKings listed new Texans running back David Johnson at plus-3,300, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield at plus-5,000 and Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky at plus-10,000.
BetMGM had Trubisky at plus-8,000, while retired quarterback Eli Manning came in at plus-15,000.
—Field Level Media