In a move that was fully expected, the New England Patriots will keep star tight end Rob Gronkowski on the 53-man roster instead of placing him on the reserve/PUP list to start the season, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The Patriots are now set to keep three tight ends on the 53-man roster in Gronkowski, highly promising UDFA Zach Sudfeld, and versatile blocking tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, who agreed to take a paycut.
Rob Gronkowski is reportedly set to return at around Week 3, and placing him on the PUP list would have caused him to miss the first six games of the regular season. Additionally, Gronkowski would not have been allowed to practice during that time span, thus making it more difficult for the Patriots to monitor his progress from offseason arm and back surgeries. Gronk should be able to return by Week 4, and he is such a talented player that you have to play him as soon as he is fully healed and ready to go. Reports from ESPN and the Boston Herald stated earlier this month that he should be ready to go in late September, and the Patriots have made a wise choice in keeping him on the 53-man roster based on this information.
Gronkowski’s placement on the 53-man roster and not the PUP list was sealed when the Patriots surprisingly elected to release both Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells, which would have made no sense had the Patriots placed Gronk on the PUP. Schefter’s report confirms to us that Rob Gronkowski will start the season on the 53-man, and let’s hope he can fully recover and play at a high level in Week 3 and beyond. In the meantime, Sudfeld and Hooman should do just fine holding down the fort at TE.