New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been watching training camp practices in street clothes as he recovers from offseason arm and back surgeries, and it seems like the most likely and best option for the Patriots is to place him on the reserve/PUP list to start the regular season. Even though every game counts, Gronkowski’s long-term health needs to be paramount, and it is more important for the Pats to have their star tight end healthy during the stretch of the regular season and in the postseason.
Adam Schefter reported on the NFL Insiders show (if you aren’t watching this show, you really should be, by the way) yesterday that all the news surrounding Rob Gronkowski is positive. That’s certainly great news, and we haven’t heard much negative after the successful arm and back surgeries. It is possible that Gronk is ready for the first week of the season, but do the Pats want to risk bringing him back that early? Would the Pats rather eat up a roster spot in order to have him miss just two or three weeks instead of six, or is it better to keep a guy like Daniel Fells on and have Gronk out for six on the PUP? Those are some tough questions the Patriots will have to answer, but there is more of a chance that he misses the reserve/PUP than people think. This is a very encouraging report from Adam Schefter, and it means that Gronk could be playing in Week 1 with no ill effects.
Daniel Fells is on the roster bubble due to the emergence of Zach Sudfeld, and the top blocking TE’s roster spot is predicated on the health of both Rob Gronkowski and Jake Ballard, who could miss the roster entirely if his knee holds him back. Fells is somebody I’ve been a backer of due to his blocking ability, but he does make a solid sum of money, and I wouldn’t expect the Pats to keep five tight ends if Gronk misses the PUP list. If Gronk hits the PUP, then Fells is safe. If not, then Fells or Ballard will be cut.
According to the Boston Globe, Daniel Fells is “likely” the Patriots top TE with Michael Hoomanawanui slotted in as the H-back. They view Sudfeld and Ballard as competitors for the No. 2 tight end spot with Gronkowski on the PUP, but I wouldn’t sleep on Sudfeld’s good chances of being the No. 1 TE with Gronk on the PUP.