New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will undergo a fourth surgery on his left forearm next week, but that is not the only medical issue that the two-time Pro Bowler is facing this offseason.
According to Mike Garafolo of the USA Today, Gronkowski recently underwent an MRI on his back and will visit with back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins to determine if surgery is required to repair a disc issue that has been bothering the 24-year-old since last season.
While at the University of Arizona, Gronkowski missed the 2009 season after having a disc shaved down and there were whispers prior to the 2010 NFL draft that Gronkowski had spinal stenosis, which both Gronkowski and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, vehemently denied. The back surgery kept Gronkowski out of the 2010 combine and would be enough to drop Gronkowski out of the first-round in the 2010 draft as the Patriots selected him with the No. 42 overall pick.
Gronkowski answered questions about his durability by appearing in all 36 regular and post-season games in his first two seasons in the league. Over that stretch, Gronkowski emerged as one of the top tight ends in the NFL and last year signed a six-year, $54 million contract extension that included over $18 million in guaranteed money. Gronkowski missed five regular season games and one playoff game in 2012 after breaking his left forearm on two separate occasions.
The disc that is currently bothering Gronkowski is not the same one that was shaved down in 2009, Garafolo adds. Furthermore, the "hope" is that if back surgery is required, the recovery time would coincide with Gronkowski's recovery from the forearm surgery, which has been widely reported as being 11 weeks. That should have Gronkowski ready for the start of the regular season, which begins a little over 15 weeks after next week's surgery.