Now that the New England Patriots have agreed to terms with TE Rob Gronkowski on a six-year, $54 million extension through 2019, the attention quickly shifts to WR Wes Welker and is TE Aaron Hernandez.
The Boston Herald writes that all indications out of New England are that contract negotiations have not opened and are not on tap in the near future. The Patriots seem content on letting Hernandez play out his rookie contract and addressing his contract when the time comes. Hernandez’s salary for the upcoming season is $644,000, and he is under contract through 2013.
Having extended Gronkowski for $13.23 million in the first three years, and making it a backloaded contract with only $13.17 million guaranteed, with no guarantees beyond the third season, the Patriots not only locked up a key cog in their offense, but also gave themselves room to possibly sign Hernandez to a starter-worthy contract extension of his own.
Gronk has emerged as the most dominant tight end in the NFL today, and Hernandez isn’t that far behind as he has also developed into a dangerous weapon in his own right having played multiple positions including tight end, slot reciever, fullback, and running back.
Other than re-signing him now, the team could opt to wait and see how the next couple of seasons play out and re-sign the former Florida Gator when his contract is up or slap the franchise tag on him. Considering that the franchise tender for tight ends is around $5 million, the team might wait for that option to present itself and give itself some options.