If losing Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos and TE Rob Gronkowski to back surgery weren’t bad enough for the New England Patriots, you can now add in to the mix multiple reports that TE Aaron Hernandez’ will be arrested on murder charges.
In recent seasons, the Patriots have lived and died by the successes of Tom Brady and their dual attack of tight ends, but heading into the 2013 NFL season, it looks like the tight end threat will be no more.
We still don’t know much about Hernandez’ pending arrest, but being accused of murder is obviously very serious. If Hernandez faces jail time pre-trial and then has to go through a trial, then football will be the least of his worries. He will miss training camp in July and probably preseason games as well. For all we know, he could end up being found guilty and end up in jail.
On the other hand, Gronkowski has been battling injury after injury and recently had successful back surgery. At this time, it is hard to say when Gronkowski will return to football activities, but one thing is for sure: he could miss most, if not all of training camp. In addition, it is very possible he misses the preseason and finds himself on the PUP list come the regular season.
In less than a year, the Patriots went from having dangerous TE depth and having three real threats to facing much uncertainty at tight end. Coach Bill Belichick knows how to handle a media presence, and he will have to do so yet again. Just remember that Belichick has Tim Tebow on his roster now and come Week One, Tebow could be lining up as a tight end.
Nonetheless, the Patriots will face some tough challenges and be forced to make some decisions at the tight end position. This uncertainty is nothing but bad news for this year’s success. They have lived and died by the tight end position before, and it looks very possible that their tight ends could fail them this season.