Gronkowski (back) is feeling good and will be ready to participate in the Patriots' offseason program, NFL.com's Kevin Patra reports. Gronkowski is four months removed from having his third back surgery since 2009, but that time off, along with his offseason work with the Patriots' training staff, has the hulking tight end raring to return for the team's offseason program. Gronkowski previously insisted his status for the regular season is under no threat, and him rejoining his teammates for offseason workouts would certainly support that stance. While the fact that he hasn't played 16 games since 2011 should still concern fantasy owners, having Gronkowski fully healthy long before Week 1 would at least provide some reassurance regarding his availability.
Gronkowski, who was placed on IR this past December after undergoing a procedure on his back, relayed that he has "no doubt" that he will be ready for the start of the upcoming regular season, CSN New England reports. While Gronkowski's optimism on the injury front is encouraging, the tight end's status will still be worth monitoring closely in the coming months due to his lengthy history of back woes (including three surgeries) as well as other assorted ailments. When healthy, Gronkowski -- who turns 28 in May -- is fantasy's top tight end, but following a 2016 campaign in which he only played eight games, logging 25 catches for 540 yards and three TDs in the process, his durability issues will no doubt be a concern for prospective fantasy owners. Meanwhile, fellow tight end Martellus Bennett -- who filled in capably for Gronkowski down the stretch -- is headed toward free agency and is a candidate to sign elsewhere this offseason.
Gronkowski (back) was placed on season-ending injured reserve Saturday, ESPN's Field Yates reports. Gronkowski required surgery Friday to repair a herniated disc in his back, prematurely ending his 2016 campaign. He'll finish the season with career-lows across the board consisting of 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns. While fellow tight end Martellus Bennett likely stands to be the primary beneficiary of Gronkowski's absence, wideouts Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell could each be in store for an increased market share of the Patriots' passing attack as well.
The Patriots don't expect Gronkowski to be able play for the rest of the 2016 season, though the team will await the results of his back surgery Friday before making a final determination on that front. Meanwhile, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport indicates that IR is a likely destination for the tight end, but either way Gronkowski's indefinite absence paves the way for Martellus Bennett to serve as the Patriots' No. 1 TE and likely sets the stage for the team to utilize additional three-wideout sets moving forward.
Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the issue that will be addressed by the back surgery Gronkowski is slated to undergo Friday is a herniated disc. Meanwhile, ESPN's Adam Schefter echoes the notion put forth by Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News which estimates that Gronkowski could be out of action for eight weeks. Such a scenario crushes the tight end's fantasy value down the NFL stretch run and implies that seeing him on the field again could hinge on the Patriots making a deep postseason run. Meanwhile, Martellus Bennett -- who has been dealing with ankle and shoulder issues -- is now in line to serve as the Patriots' No. 1 TE in the coming weeks.
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