ORLANDO — While Patriots fans grapple with the question of whether Rob Gronkowski will be back next season by trying to interpret his tweets, team owner Robert Kraft has been following other social media posts involving his tight end. And he doesn’t seem overly concerned.
“I must say, I sort of got excited seeing him vault up on Shaq’s shoulders,’’ Kraft said Monday, referencing a concert video that made the rounds this weekend featuring Gronkowski and Shaquille O’Neal.
“For a guy that size to be able to hop up on a 7-foot-2-inch, or whatever Shaq is, is pretty cool. So, that speaks well about his potential athletic moves this coming year.’’
Kraft, who met with reporters during a break at the NFL’s annual meetings, also said he’s seen Gronkowski in person recently.
“I saw him a few weeks ago come into the building after hours, so . . .,’’ he said, indicating that Gronkowski is indeed gearing up for a ninth season in Foxborough.
“I should say one thing when it comes to Gronk. I’ve met a lot of people in my life [but] I’ve never met anyone like him. If the good Lord lets us come back as someone [it should be him]. I’ve said it before, he’s the most carefree, happy kind of guy.’’
Kraft also touched on a number of other topics, including his disappointment over the Super Bowl loss, Malcolm Butler’s benching in that game, and his relationships with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.
“Putting my fan hat on — which is on most of the time when I’m watching games — the fact that we lost and the way that we did, I still haven’t gotten over it,’’ Kraft said. “But when it comes to Malcolm, I have a unique spot for him. I had hoped he’d be a Patriot for all his days.
“I think that play at the end of the Seattle Super Bowl is iconic. I think he’ll be in the memory bank of our fans for the next 50 years.
“I’m just sorry it didn’t work out for him with us but I’m happy he got the contract he got.’’
Kraft was asked if he ever received an answer as to why Butler didn’t play any defensive snaps in the Super Bowl after being a fixture at corner the last three season. The owner defended his coach’s decision.
“Here’s the deal,” Kraft said. “We in New England are privileged to have the greatest coach in the history of coaching. We’re involved in a number of businesses in our family . . . and we try to encourage to have good managers. We want them to be bold, we want them to take risks. And you know, sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t.
“But I have faith in Bill as a coach that I don’t think that there’s anyone who has the football knowledge and expertise combined with understanding personnel. No one can merge those two worlds and, you know, he’s done pretty well for us over the last 18 years.
“As a fan, I can question some of the moves. As someone who has the privilege to be the owner of this team, I encourage him to keep going with his instincts, and doing what he thinks is right.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, even if he made an error — and this is true with any of our managers — if they’re doing it for the right reason, then I support it 100 percent.
“And I’ve never had one instance in the 18 years where Bill hasn’t done what he believes is in the best interest of our team and to help us to win games.’’
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The Patriots officially announced the re-signing of LaAdrian Waddle. The tackled joined the Patriots in 2015 off waivers from the Lions. He played in 12 games in 2017, including four starts at right tackle. The 6-foot-5-inch, 315-pound Waddle is expected to be in the mix to replace left tackle Nate Solder, who left to join the Giants . . . The man Waddle shared right tackle duties with last season, Cam Fleming, officially signed with the Cowboys. Fleming, who has experience at both right and left tackle and was a valuable depth piece in New England, received a one-year deal worth up to $3.55 million . . . Patriots legend Gino Cappelletti turned 84 on Monday.