The Patriots are going to have the tight end of duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at least through the 2018 season.
The contract Hernandez signed today is a five-year extension worth a maximum value of $40 million and includes a $12.5-million signing bonus. Hernandez is guaranteed $16 million, with a practical guarantee of $16.4 million.
The extension, which still includes his the $545,000 and $570,000 base salaries he was to make the next two season, averages $7.5 million. That's the second-highest extension in league history for a tight end in league.
Brian Murphy, a Medfield native, negotiated the deal for Athletes First.
The $12.5 million signing bonus is the highest ever for a tight end, and $9.5 million will be paid in the next seven months.
Hernandez's deal averages more the first four years than Gronkowski's contract, and has more in true guaranteed money. Gronkowski was guaranteed $12 million, and another $5 million if he was on the roster in 2015.
Hernandez's deal is also one year shorter than Gronkowski, and Hernandez will be 29 when it expires.
There are five Pro Bowl incentives for Hernandez worth $500,000 each.
had it written into the contract that he will be making a $50,000 donation to the Myra Kraft Foundation to thank owner Robert Kraft for the faith he showed in him by drafting him, and to pay respect for renegotiating the contract with two years left on the deal.
This is quite a deal for a fourth-round pick who has yet to make it through a season fully healthy.
Could Hernandez have gotten more should he have waited for free agency? Sure. But no fourth-round picks, who received a $200,000 signing bonus, would turn down a deal like this.
If Hernandez was to play out the deal and been franchised, he would have made $9.3 million the next three years. Now he's making double.
We now know this for certain: the Patriots have joined the 21st century in cap management by extending valuable players early, which helps the player out short term and is cheaper for the team in the future.
They have finally acknowledged that every contract doesn't need to be a contentious, head-butting exercise.
Common sense has prevailed where if you do the right things early, the Patriots will scratch your back.
This is a very good thing for the franchise. Both in the locker room, and on the cap.
That's a lot of wins off the field for a franchise that piles them up on it.