The agent for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski told a Miami sports radio station Thursday that the upcoming surgery on his client’s back is not serious and its recovery timetable will be "very comparable to the amount of time he would miss" after a fourth surgery on his forearm.
A league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that Gronkowski will undergo the operation in mid-to-late June and that it will be performed by noted back specialist Robert Watkins.
Gronkowski's estimated recovery time from the arm surgery, which took place May 21, was set at around 10 weeks, assuming there are no setbacks. A source told ESPN that Gronkowski definitely will not be ready for the start of training camp in late July. If the recovery is slow, there is a chance Gronkowski could miss the first part of the season.
Agent Drew Rosenhaus described the back surgery as “preventative maintenance” and referred to it as "killing two birds with one stone" during his interview with WQAM.
"In Rob's case, it's not a serious back surgery, it's unrelated to the original surgery that he had as a junior in college," said Rosenahus, referring to the injury that kept Gronk off the field in 2009 and played a part in his falling to the second round of the 2010 NFL draft. "That's totally [fine] and recovered perfectly. This is a new injury and it's minor; it's not as significant.
"It's certainly, as I said, the recovery time will be consistent with the recovery time that he's going to be out anyway, so I don't think it's a big deal. ... Although he needs it, he had it for a while and he's been able to function."
The surgery will be Gronkowski's fifth since suffering a broken forearm in a November game against the Colts, and seventh including the original back surgery in 2009 and minor ankle surgery last offseason.
Rosenhaus expressed optimism regarding Gronkowski's most recent forearm operation while adding that the recovery time needed for that made undergoing the back surgery a more plausible option at this time, rather than at some point in the future.
"Bottom line is, Rob had a successful forearm operation last month, I was there in Boston with him, everything went very well; he's [doing] great," he said. "He's doing so well now [that] he can afford to get back surgery. This is a lingering problem that Rob's been playing with, actually through all of last season and now that he's out with the arm for a set period of time, it's something that he eventually would have to do, and the recovery will be very comparable to the amount of time he would have missed with the arm surgery, so why not get it done now and make sure when he is healthy he's 100 percent and he doesn't have to address the back down the road. I used the cliche 'we're killing two birds with one stone' by getting the back surgery when he's out and recovering with his arm, because he really can't do much right now anyway."
The Patriots have been without both of their top tight ends during OTA's, as fellow fourth-year player Aaron Hernandez has been limited due to an offseason shoulder surgery of his own.