New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is scheduled to undergo back surgery on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The back surgery has been long-rumored this offseason, though this is the first time we've been given an actual date.
Gronkowski is now having his fifth surgery since November of 2012. He's had his forearm operated on four times, and missed significant time due to that injury. His back injury is considered less serious than the operations on his previously broken forearm, but surgery is still surgery.
Gronkowski's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, downplayed the seriousness of the back surgery back in May, saying it's not a big deal and is "more preventative maintenance than anything else." There's no word on what exactly the issue is, but the initial report suggested that surgery was considered after an MRI on a disc in his back.
The silver lining in all of this is that Gronkowski had his most recent forearm surgery in late May, and his recovery time from back surgery should overlap with that. Gronkowski's forearm surgery recovery is expected to be around 10 weeks, while the surgery on his back has been rumored to come with a recovery time of about 12 weeks.
New England wasn't exactly lost without Gronkowski for the five games he missed last season, of course. The Tom Brady-led Patriots offense had the No. 4 passing attack in the league with an average of 291.4 yards per game, but the Patriots are definitely a better team with Gronkowski in the lineup. Gronkowki's best season came in 2011, when he had 90 receptions for 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns.
As noted over at Pats Pulpit, the Patriots have solid depth at the position with Aaron Hernandez, Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells, but none of those players are capable of what Gronkowski can do when healthy.