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Tom Brady has 'high expectations' for Buccaneers, 'hopeful' Rob Gronkowski decides to return

Tom Brady unretired and returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to chase an eighth Super Bowl title.

After helping lead the Bucs to their first NFC South title since 2007 last year, TB12 said Thursday at the close of mandatory minicamp that the continuity within the organization should allow them to make another deep postseason run.

"The season's already started. You're competing every day out there. You're either getting better or you're getting worse. You're not going out there to break a sweat, you're going out there to get things done," Brady said. "I think this should be in my opinion our best opportunity to play our best football because we've been together the longest, and why shouldn't it be? We know each other, we know the scheme, we've been through a lot of challenging circumstances in games and now we've got to go out there and execute it as well as we possibly can."

In Brady's first season in Tampa, he led the Bucs to the Lombardi Trophy. After keeping the core of the club together, the Bucs nearly overcame a big playoff deficit against the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams in last season's Divisional Round.

With Todd Bowles taking over the head coaching job from Bruce Arians, the Bucs continue to have a continuity advantage over other clubs. In addition to bringing back many of their key players, Tampa added the likes of receiver Russell Gage and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and traded for guard Shaq Mason to help smooth over losses on the offensive line.

One significant question for Brady's offense is whether future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski will return or head back to retirement. Brady said Thursday he's hopeful to have Gronk back, but if not, they'll figure out how to fill his role.

"I think it's just obviously totally up to him," Brady said. "We'd all love to play with him, but he's got to make the best decision for himself, and he knows that. Anyone who cares about him knows that he's doing what's right for him, which is trying to figure it out. We don't have training camp for about six weeks, so whatever he's got to do to figure it out. We'll be hopeful if he does, and if he doesn't, then we still gotta go out there and figure out what to do."

After deciding to return to the Bucs for another season, Brady, turning 45 in August, then went out and paved his future post-football path, whenever that might come. TB12 agreed to a massive 10-year contract to be Fox Sports' lead NFL analyst after his playing days are finally done.

"I fell in love with this sport when I was a young kid and I think there's still a great love for it. ... I'm gonna stay in football now, it's pretty clear," he said of his post-career plan. "That'll be fun. I look forward to whenever that happens or whenever I decide to make that decision to retire. I think there's a lot of things about me not ending up having a normal offseason, I got to figure out what it would look like, which was interesting for me. So it was good. I got a lot of good discussions with different people and learned a lot. So yeah, should be a smoother transition than I would've thought."

That transition will happen when Brady walks away for good. Right now, he's focusing on that eighth Super Bowl ring.

"I'm happy I'm back, happy I'm back with my teammates, and it's going to be a great year. Gonna work really hard," he said. "We have high expectations for what we're trying to accomplish. Got a lot of good players. Doesn't matter much. We've got to go out and do it."

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