Patriots officially re-issue Rob Gronkowski’s number

Tom Brady‘s No. 12 likely will never be worn by another Patriots player. A new Patriots receiver is wearing Rob Gronkowski‘s No. 87.

The Patriots finally have revealed the numbers for the team’s incoming class of rookies. The headline is that (shockingly) quarterback Mac Jones won’t be wearing No. 50. He’ll be wearing No. 10.

The greater significance is that the Patriots have re-issued tight end Rob Gronkowski’s No. 87 to rookie receiver Tre Nixon.

It’s not the first time the number has been re-issued. Receiver Devin Ross wore it during mandatory minicamp, when he participated on a tryout basis. (After landing on the roster, Ross switched to No. 8.)

As noted in June, of the team’s seven retired numbers (20 for Gino Cappelletti, 40 for Mike Haynes, 57 for Steve Nelson, 73 for John Hannah, 78 for Bruce Armstrong, 79 for Jim Lee Hunt, and 89 for Bob Dee), only one player — Armstrong — played on the team during the first year of the Bill Belichick era, 2000.

Other key players from the Belichick era have seen their names back on jerseys, including Richard Seymour’s 93, Ty Law’s 24, Tedy Bruschi’s 54, Troy Brown’s 80, Adam Vinatieri’s 4, and Rodney Harrison’s 37. Now, Gronk’s 87 will be worn.