Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will have back surgery performed by spine specialist Dr. Robert Watkins on Tuesday in Los Angeles, ESPN.com reported Friday.
It’s not known how long Gronkowski will need to recuperate. The surgery is different from the operation Gronkowski had on his back while playing at the University of Arizona. He missed his entire senior season because of the injury.
Gronkowski is not expected to be ready when the Patriots open training camp in late July and his status for the start of the regular season is also in doubt.
The back issue isn’t the only problem setting Gronkowski back. He underwent surgery for the fourth time in May on his left forearm because of infections. He originally broke it during the regular season in a rout of the Colts in November and rebroke it in a divisional round playoff game against the Texans.
Watkins has also performed back surgeries on Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis.
Cruz signs tenderWide receiver Victor Cruz signed his $2.879 million tender with the New York Giants.
“I’m going to sign my tender today and will continue talks for a long-term deal before camp starts,” Cruz told ESPN Friday morning.
The move comes after months of stalled long-term extension negotiations.
Had the 26-year-old Cruz not signed before Monday, the Giants’ offer could have been reduced to $630,000 for the 2013 season. The Giants could have matched any offers Cruz received from other teams.
Cruz skipped all of New York’s offseason program, but will be required to show up at training camp beginning in July or the Giants have the option of fining him.
Cruz switched agents from Malik Shareef to Tom Condon this offseason but hasn’t been able to reach agreement on a long-term deal. Co-owner John Mara said that the team made a sizable offer but acknowledged both sides remain far apart.
“This is the right place for him to play,” Mara told the NFL Network. “He’s a star in this area, he’s an important part of our team, and I think we’ll eventually get a deal done, but it’s just a process that you have to go through. And we’re going through it right now. There’s communication, and it’s slow but steady, and I think at some point we’ll reach a deal.”
An undrafted free agent in 2010 out of the University of Massachusetts who became a star with the Giants as they won the 2011 NFL title, Cruz is coming off a Pro Bowl season. He made 86 catches for 1,092 yards and scored 10 touchdowns last year, and was even more effective during the Super Bowl season with 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine TDs.
Jets sign TE Winslow
The Jets signed tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. to a one-year deal after a solid performance during the team’s three-day minicamp. Winslow was brought in on a tryout basis and impressed coach Rex Ryan, who said the former Pro Bowl tight end’s ‘‘athleticism and his ability to catch the football, it certainly jumps out.’’ Winslow, who turns 30 next month, adds depth to a position thin on experience after allowing Dustin Keller to leave as a free agent. Winslow played one game last season with the Patriots before asking for his release . . . Coming off a 6-10 season and two straight years without a playoff appearance hasn’t dimmed Ryan’s assessment of his ability as Jets coach. “I don’t need the credit,” he told Newsday. “But I can tell you one thing: When it’s said and done, they’ll look back and say, ‘Oh, man, this dude can coach his butt off.’ And you know what? It’s true. And I’ll let the people that know best talk on my behalf about the kind of coach I am. I don’t have to brag, even though statistically, I can brag about anything I’ve ever done defensively.” . . . The Patriots released rookie free agent kicker David Ruffer, who connected on his first 23 career field goal attempts at Notre Dame, a school record.
Bills’ Williams: Never mind
Mario Williams is backtracking on attributing ‘‘kill’’ as a word Bills coordinator Mike Pettine has used in describing defensive philosophy with his players. In a series of messages the defensive end posted on his Twitter account Friday afternoon, Williams clarified that he wasn’t quoting Pettine directly. ‘‘Just to clarify a choice of words I used: The phrase ‘kill them’ has never been said by Coach Pet or any of my coaches/teammates,’’ Williams wrote. ‘‘I said it as a figure of speech from my ‘perspective’ not literally or any actual intention.’’ A day earlier Williams raised eyebrows in describing Pettine’s aggressive approach to defense. ‘‘He usually says ‘Kill them or hurt them,’ ’’ Williams said . . . Quarterback EJ Manuel signed a four-year deal worth $8.9 million with the Bills, a person familiar with the deal said. Buffalo’s first-round draft pick, No. 16 overall, is competing with veteran free agent addition Kevin Kolb for the starting job . . . The Seahawks agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Tarvaris Jackson to compete with Brady Quinn for the backup role behind starter Russell Wilson. Jackson won seven games for the Seahawks as their quarterback in 2011. He was traded to the Bills during training camp last season but was released by Buffalo this week.