It's a good thing Bill Belichick likes to collect tight ends these days. After all, his best one, Rob Gronkowski, will be out of action a good while longer.
Gronkowski, who suffered a broken forearm last year and re-injured the arm during the playoffs, has experienced complications from the surgery and has had to undergo four procedures as a result. And now his back is acting up. Gronkowski will require back surgery sometime in early- to mid-June, meaning his availability for the start of training camp is in doubt.
The surgery will repair a disk problem Gronkowski experienced during the season. It's believed the surgery is unrelated to a back issue Gronkowski had in college; still, a bad back's a bad back. And that's not good for a player who has proved so important to the Patriots' offense.
In the meantime, the Patriots are still deep at the position. They've got Aaron Hernandez, and former Giants tight end Jake Ballard, who missed last year because of a knee injury he suffered in the Giants' Super Bowl win over the Patriots, is healthy again. The Patriots also have Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells.