by Danny Jaillet
FOXBOROUGH — This past June, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski got a whole lot richer, and today his fellow tight end followed suit. Aaron Hernandez and the Patriots agreed on an extension through 2018, which will reportedly be signed within 24 hours, according to ESPNBoston.com. As expected, the deal was not cheap for the Patriots. The total amount of the deal according to the report, is expected to be worth $40 million and “includes a $12.5 million signing bonus.”
“Aaron has improved a lot,” head coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s worked hard, he’s improved a lot in all phases of the game: passing game, running game, protection and his overall versatility. He’s done a good job for us.”
Last season, Hernandez was part of the deadly one-two punch that gave New England a huge boost on offense. He caught 79 passes for 910 yards last season. In the postseason, he was very effective as well, catching 19 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns.His best game came on the biggest stage, the Super Bowl, as he caught eight passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. The former Florida Gator was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft as the 113th pick, after bursting onto the scene by catching 45 receptions for 563 yards and six touchdowns.
With the signing of Hernandez, the Patriots have locked up two of their biggest weapons and made a statement that he and Gronkowski will be a big part of the team’s future plans.
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE
According to FoxSports.com, the Patriots parted ways with wide receiver Donte Stallworth. He last played with the Patriots in the 2007 season, but since then has had a rocky career in the NFL. He went to the Cleveland Browns and was later cut due to off-field issues that halted any progress he made in 2007. Stallworth then went to the Washington Redskins, where last season, he caught 22 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. New England was hoping he would pick up where he left off in 2007, but that thought appears to have been short-lived.