Earlier this offseason, the New England Patriots agreed to a contract extension with star tight end Rob Gronkowski. On Monday, the team agreed to an extension with their other star tight end Aaron Hernandez. With their new deals, the Patriots tight end duo will be together in New England through 2018.
With a lack of depth at wide receiver in 2011, the Patriots went to a duel tight end passing game. Along with star wide receiver Wes Welker, Gronkowski and Hernandez were the focal point of the top offensive in the NFL. The success that came out of that their new setup made keeping the two tight ends in New England one of the team’s key priorities.
Earlier this offseason, the Patriots put the franchise tag on Welker. The team decided to negotiate with the receiver after the 2011 season when his contract expired and it has caused friction between the two sides. The lack of an agreement has caused Welker and the Patriots to separate further and it seems now that Welker is entering his final year with the team.
This deal is important for Hernandez because it gives him security for the future, but it may be more important for the Patriots. Their decision to delay negotiations with Welker caused friction between the two, as it often does, and almost guaranteed his departure. By coming to terms with Hernandez on a long-term extension now, the team will avoids a similar fate with him.
Another important factor of this deal is they no longer have to worry about Hernandez’s original contract, which was to expire in 2013. The Patriots have several other contracts coming up soon with young players that the team’s been building around too. By dealing with Hernandez now, that’s one contract they will not have to deal with while negotiating with others.
With Tom Brady at quarterback, the Patriots have built one of the top offenses in the NFL. The importance of Brady to this offense is only matched by the team’s tight ends. Now that the team has secured their two stars until 2018, long-term success is surely to follow.