The Patriots have now rewarded both halves of their tight-end holy-s-h-dash-t combination, signing Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to ultra-long-term deals.
Each got their new contracts after only two NFL seasons, as members of the last draft class (at least through the early years of the next decade) to renegotiate a rookie contract with less than three years in the league.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reported this morning that Hernandez will receive $16 million guaranteed, which includes a $12.5 million signing bonus.
He’ll average $7.5 million per year under the extension, which pays out $37.5 million in new money. Hernandez was due to earn a paltry (in comparison) $540,000 and $570,000 in salary over the next two seasons.
Hernandez is now signed through 2018, with Gronkowski locked up one season longer.
For both players, the numbers amounted t offers they couldn’t have refused. With minimum salaries for the next two seasons and then the tight end franchise tag for one or the other in 2014, cashing in and avoiding the injury risk made plenty of sense.
The Hernandez deal also avoids the potential ugliness that could have arisen from an argument by the player that he’s not really a tight end, but a receiver. With the Pats moving him around (and using him during the 2011 playoffs as a tailback), the team and the player may have been paying so much attention to the position at which he lined up for the most snaps in 2013 that it would have become a distraction. Now, they can use him however they want for the next seven years.