Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski is scheduled to have surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments on Thursday with Dr. James Andrews, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. The ACL and MCL tears are the first of his entire football career.
Gronkowski injured his knee in Week 14 against the Browns and was placed on injured reserve.The injury occurred just seven games after his return from offseason back and forearm surgeries.
Gronkowski underwent two forearm surgeries in the offseason, but those procedures were his third and fourth on the arm in his career. The back surgery was his first in the NFL but the second of his career, as he missed his entire 2009 season at the University of Arizona after recovering from a similar procedure. His 2011 season also ended in injury, as he suffered strained ligaments in his ankle against the Giants in the Super Bowl. The injury also required surgery.
Gronkowski is an offensive force for the Patriots when healthy. In just seven games this season, he collected 39 passes for 592 receiving yards and four touchdowns. In four seasons with the Patriots, Gronkowski has made two Pro Bowls, is a two-time All-Pro selection and has amassed 226 catches for 3,255 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns. He signed a record six-year, $54 million contract in 2012, which was the largest contract ever given to a tight end. Gronkowski was given $13.17 million in guaranteed money in the long-term deal.
The Patriots were 7-1 without Gronkowski this season, while 5-2 with him. Without the star tight end, the Patriots used rookie receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins along with veteran Julian Edelman to fill the void in the passing game. New England also relied heavily on the run game with backs LaGarrette Blount, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.
The unfortunate dichotomy of Gronkowski is that he a superstar on the field, but is so frequently on the sideline that it is hard to rely on him. He has only played in 18 of 32 games over the last two seasons and with at least five reported surgeries.