Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Aug 2012

Pats Ink Aaron Hernandez to Extension

Now the other pass-catching tight end in New England will be staying with the team for a very long time. Per the Boston Globe's Greg Bedard, it's a five-year extension worth $40 million, with a $12.5 million signing bonus and $16.4 million guaranteed.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 27 Aug 2012

36 comments, Last at 29 Aug 2012, 10:18am by Jimmy


by jackgibbs :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 12:18pm


and this is why they couldn't (wouldn't) pay welker.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:04pm

So they can extend their less talented #2 TE?

What does Hernandez do that isn't replaceable?

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:07pm

I second that. But just to play devil's advocate, couldn't the same be said of Welker?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:04pm

And yet there isn't another slot receiver who seems capable of doing what Welker does.

On the Pats alone, Gronkowski does Hernandez things better than Hernandez. He's Thomas Jones to Gronk's Jamaal Charles.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:32pm

No one does what Welker does as well as Welker, but dozens of people do it reasonably well. 80% of Welker can be had for not much. The only player I can think of who could reasonably be described as a poor man's Hernandez is James Casey, who 1. seems rather injury prone and 2. is a very poor man's Hernandez.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:59pm

I get that Hernandez is good and versatile, but he strikes me as the 120% of the standard H-back. I suspect there are quite a few TEs who could make serviceable fullbacks if given the chance.

Here's a for-instance: Brent Celek does 80% of what Aaron Hernandez does, and does it for 25% of the price. Hernandez's contract is also 45% more than Fred Davis makes (another 80% example) on his franchise tag.

And let's not over-state it -- the man has 8 more rushes in his career than I have. He also carries some injury concerns of his own.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 3:21pm

Brent Celek? Twenty-seven years old.

Eight years, $34 million, $11 million guaranteed.

Hernandez? Twenty-two years old.

Five years, $40 million, $12.5 million guaranteed.

The Patriots get a young guy who will only get better, and they get his prime years. If Celek and Hernandez went on the free agent market today, do you seriously think the results would be any different? They probably would - Hernandez would get more money. Celek? he's maxed out. I can't imagine any (ratioal) argument.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 4:54pm

Make Hernandez' deal seven years. It's a five year extension on top of the two he has left.

by Alternator :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 4:13pm

Gronk is a traditional tight end, and he is both phenomenal at the position and young enough to have not entered his physical prime.

Hernandez is a hybrid TE/WR who played at WR around three quarters of his snaps, and tends to be moved around extensively.

They are both listed at TE, but that's where the positional similarity ends.

by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 5:37pm

"And yet there isn't another slot receiver who seems capable of doing what Welker does."

Its funny, Troy Brown had a 1200yd season. Randy Moss broke the receiving TD record. Gronk had the best TE season ever, as a second year pro. Corey Dillon had a 1700 yd season. And Welker does things no slot receiver can do.

Maybe Welker is unique. Or maybe Belichick/Brady/etc are just really good at figuring out where their offensive weapon's talent lies, and exploiting that.

Wes Welker will walk next year, or whenever, and the patriots offense will be fine.

I mean, Reche Caldwell almost had a 1000yd receiving season playing for the Pats. RECHE CALDWELL.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 9:40pm

760 yards is a little less than 1000.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 2:20pm

Absolutely ... before Moss and Welker ... name the Pats WRs ... um ... David Givens ... Deion Branch .. Troy Brown ... um ... um ... there are more I can just never remember them ...

by Mr Shush :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:28am

Jabar Gaffney. Chad Jackson, I think. Seriously, 06 might be Brady's most impressive season when you consider what he had to work with.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:06pm

Be 22 years old and have a 900 yard receiving year.

by jackgibbs :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:23pm

also, line up in the back field, or you know, as a tight end. but yeah, the 22 thing, mostly

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:47pm

Wow, talk about not understanding the Patriots. Both Gronk and Hernandez are #1 guys player different positions that, for simplicity purposes, get labeled as TE.

by MJK :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 3:58pm

In interviews in the Boston media, Brady has commented about how Hernandez's ceiling is very high. Apparently, he's even better at Gronkowski at running routes, getting open, and getting separation, and his main problem is that his hands aren't quite as good. But they're getting better. The impression Brady gave was that Hernandez might have a higher ceiling than Gronkowski as a pass catcher, even. He's also probably a little better than Gronk in open space.

Of course, he's not (and probably will never be) as good a blocker, and he's not as big, so he's never going to be the guy catching the ball over everyone's head. But it's understandable how lethal it is to have those guys on the field at once... and why'd they pay to lock that up. Especially because other teams are starting to copy, and it's tough to get one, let alone two, top TE's on the same team at the same time.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 10:38pm

What can Hernandez do that isn't replaceable? How about leading all receivers and TEs in broken tackles, and leading the entire NFL in broken tackles per touch? Dude's a weapon with the ball in his hands. He's a playmaker. Seems like those are the kind of guys an offense might want to keep around.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:30pm

I think Hernandez might also be a tiny bit younger.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:35pm

Hernandez is younger, and in addition to good short area quickness, brings size, blocking ability, the abiilty to move all over the formation, skill in taking handoffs and playing as a running fullback or halfback...

Everything Hernandez does is replaceable. Replacing him with less than three players would be difficult. Having him on the field is the most important element of the Patriots' versatility, about which ask the Broncos defense.

If anything, he's more valuable than Gronkowski, who is simply a very good tight end.

by JonFrum :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 9:41pm

A very good tight end?

by Paddy Pat :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:37pm

Hernandez has huge upside. The Pats have only begun to tap his versatility, and his stock may yet rise considerably. This deal surprises me because I naturally assumed that the team would only be able to keep one of the tight ends. Clearly, the they have assessed the two tight end set as the irreplaceable resource and feel that they can find another player, perhaps Edelman? to play the Welker role, especially now that Lloyd or a comparable player is back in the fold.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:07pm

I keep hearing Edelman replacing a lot of guys, but he seems pretty thoroughly Peter-principled as a starter. He's decent everywhere, but good nowhere. It's hard to replace an expert with a jack-of-all-trades.

by RC (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 5:44pm

Edelman has had 2 games in his career as a Patriot where he's played WR for most of the game (typically because Welker has been hurt).

Here are his stats:


Now, there's probably plenty of good reasons why hes not starting at WR (despite being drastically faster than Welker, and quite a bit bigger), but hes filled in pretty well when given the chance. As a PR/WR5, hes had a couple of big games.

by Dan :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 8:22pm

Edelman's 8-98 game came on 16 targets, according to the stats here, which is not so impressive. 10-103 was on 15 targets.

For his career, Edelman has a 63% catch percentage and 6.3 yards/target. Welker, over the same time period (2009-11), has a 72% catch percentage and 8.2 yards/target.

I think that Welker is replaceable, but Edelman is not the one to do it. I'd try to draft a replacement, or go out and pay good slot receiver money (rather than #1 WR money) to someone like Davone Bess, Doug Baldwin, Lance Moore, or (if he's back to form) Steve Smith USC.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 2:22pm

People who say hernandez is replaceable just aren't watching the pats. Yes, he plays with brady and yes his hybrid nature would be greatly diminished if he were asked to play as a pure tight end or pure wr. But that isn't the point. The pats offense is frightening when they can run fluidly between base and sub and the reason for that is hernandez. Now hernandez does drop a bunch of balls, but hes so scheme versatile that hes dangerous. Fluidly moving between slot, bunch, out of the backfield, split out, or in a standard tight end scheme. I absolutely would've paid him and i think the pats got him cheap all things considered.

by PirateFreedom (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 3:45pm

Hernandez brings immense formation versatility when running the no-huddle and is a very elusive runner when he gets the ball in space.
As a Patriots fan I am delighted to read he has been extended.

by MJK :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 3:59pm

The Boston TE party lives on!

by Nathan :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 5:48pm

Shit I forgot about that nickname. Amazing.

by Led :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 7:16pm

The Pats are now all in long term on their hybrid multi "tight end" offense. No doubt it presents a match up nightmare, so long as Brady keeps playing and playing effectively. If Brady gets hurt or declines faster than expected, can another QB run the offense or does "flexibility to pass or run" turn into "not that great at passing or running"? Just a devil's advocate POV.

by JohnD (not verified) :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 8:56pm

I don't know the answer to your question, but I'm betting the question isn't particularly relevant to the Pats.

Speaking as a Colts fan, it's tough to plan for what happens after the departure of a HoF QB. You do your best to maximize his productivity while he's around.

Having said that, Belichick is clearly a master strategist, so maybe he knows exactly what happens post-Brady.

by Alternator :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 3:48am


by jackgibbs :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 10:58am

hopefully between now and then they can teach ryan mallett to quit firing balls 10 yards over his receiver's heads at roughly the speed of sound

by Purds :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 2:26pm

He thinks that is what ROBO-BRADY would do.

by Nathan :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 5:52pm

I've been really really pleased with how Mallett has looked this preseason. He moves in the pocket very well for someone his size, has a cannon (obviously) and has shown very good accuracy on throws outside the numbers. He needs to get better throwing the post though. All in all I very much doubt he's getting flipped for picks the way people predicted when he was drafted. I think he's the long term replacement.

by Jimmy :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 10:18am

Mallet's footwork in the pocket was very good coming out of college. Very nimble feet considering the length of his legs.