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Aaron Hernandez could try for wide receiver franchise tag down the road

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Jermichael Finley could prove to be a role model for Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

When Green Bay placed the franchise tag on Finley earlier this year, he wanted to be classified as a wide receiver for the purposes of determining his compensation. Finley’s argument was centered on the amount of time the Packers used him off the line in a two-point stance, but it never played out because Finley signed a new two-year deal with the team. The contract will pay him around $15 million, which just about splits the difference between the tags for receivers ($9.515 million) and tight ends ($5.446 million).

In an interview with Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe, Blake Baratz, Finley’s agent, suggests Hernandez could make a similar argument if the Patriots franchise him after the 2013 season. That’s been suggested many times since the Patriots signed Rob Gronkowski to an extension, but Hernandez rarely lines up with his hand in the dirt and Baratz thinks that should matter when defining his position for a franchise tag.

“The team is going to argue it doesn’t matter where the guy lines up and what he does, he’s a tight end. Our argument was, when you make an argument on where they are lining up, what kind of stance they’re in, whether they’re running routes and the percentages that Jermichael was doing that. To me, that’s no different than if Wes Welker is in the slot or James Jones is in the slot,” Baratz said. “The team’s going to say he was a tight end in college, he sits in the tight end meeting room, and he’s a tight end in the media guide, and on websites he’s a tight end. That’s all great, but our argument was what’s the definition of a tight end? To us, [that] says he plays tight to the end, which is the traditional definition.”

Baratz said he doesn’t think Finley’s argument would have swayed an arbitrator because of the precedent it would have set, but thinks the soundness of it helped get a contract done quickly with the Packers. While we’re a long way from the end of the 2013 season, the issue will likely play a role if there are any contract discussions over the next two years.

Given the evolving nature of tight ends, this isn’t likely to be the last time the traditional definition of the position comes into question.

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8 Responses to “Aaron Hernandez could try for wide receiver franchise tag down the road”
  1. CKL says: Jul 8, 2012 11:52 AM

    This type of reclassification does have precedent. Suggs got himself classified as a DE (or some hybrid of DE/LB) instead of a LB one year for tag purposes.

  2. thraiderskin says: Jul 8, 2012 12:26 PM

    These TEs are only putting up the stats and getting chances they get because they are playing from the TE position. These guys would be crying if they were told to block more and utilized less for pass catching.

  3. sschmiggles says: Jul 8, 2012 2:08 PM

    thraiderskin says:
    Jul 8, 2012 12:26 PM
    These TEs are only putting up the stats and getting chances they get because they are playing from the TE position. These guys would be crying if they were told to block more and utilized less for pass catching.
    _____________________

    They’re both used as blockers. Gronk is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Hernandez is OK at blocking, but he improved a lot from his rookie year.

    Hernandez does line up in the slot most of the time. Welker spent a lot of his snaps running short/intermediate routes from the outside. Wes is more of a possession receiver than a pure “slot” receiver.

  4. mark0226 says: Jul 8, 2012 4:08 PM

    What about Julian Edelman? He’s classified as a WR in media, website, etc, but he plays DB too.

  5. thraiderskin says: Jul 8, 2012 4:12 PM

    I was not talking about Gronk, I’m talking about TEs like Finley, Hernandez and Graham. 90% of their whole production is based purely on the fact they are playing from the TE spot. They are pass catching TEs that should be paid and considred TEs. At some point, should blocking TEs demand tackle money, because they are dealing with pass rushers? I also never said Hernandez didn’t block, but it defintely isn’t his strong suit, even if it was better last year than the year before (duh).

  6. ilovekoolaid says: Jul 8, 2012 11:16 PM

    Hernandez blocks about as well as Tom Brady does.

  7. FinFan68 says: Jul 9, 2012 1:11 AM

    He is a football player. They use him however they need to. I think the arguments from the team perspective are valid. So tired of agents looking for angles to squeeze more money. if the pats lock up a playoff spot early, maybe they should keep him back as a blocker every play for the rest of the season just so there is no argument

  8. johnnyb216 says: Jul 9, 2012 1:09 PM

    The packers never placed the franchise tag on Finley.

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