By: Derek Havens
The New England Patriots have two of the best tight ends in the NFL today. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez made a hug impact for the team since being drafted in 2010. After three seasons in he league, however both have to make changes moving forward.
The 23-year-old took the league by storm from the start of his career. In just three years, the University of Arizona alum has hauled in an incredible 38 touchdown passes. Everything Gronkowski has done to this point, from blocking to receiving, has many calling him the best tight end in the NFL; his production has certainly backed the statement, too.
After all, he is the first tight end in league history to have three straight 10-plus touchdown seasons. Unfortunately, several off the field issues since joining the Patriots are definitely cause for concern.
In June of 2012, the Patriots inked the two-time Pro Bowl tight end to a $53 million dollar deal. Many people would want to live the life Gronkowski has been given, but a line was crossed. In no way am I bashing Gronkowski for partying in the off-season or having fun, but better judgment needs to be applied. After breaking your arm twice, there is no reason to be intoxicated on stage, shirtless, wresting with your brother in Las Vegas when you are putting yourself at further risk.
This may not have been as big of a story if there were not past incidents and he had been on the field when the team needed him most in the last two post-season runs. With injuries causing him to miss important time the past two years, however, that is the case.
To be clear, in no way do I want to trade, cut or make a rash decision regarding Gronkowski, but a change needs to be made. I would expect someone within the organization to have a talk with him very soon. New England has invested a lot in Gronkowski and at some point, he has to realize you owe responsibility to your employer.
Here is the video, courtesy of TMZ. (Music warning)
Similar to Gronkowski, Hernandez has been very good for his first three seasons in the NFL. The Pro Bowl tight end has 175 catches, 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career thus far.
NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported on Twitter Tuesday morning Hernandez rented a place in Manhattan Beach, Calif., so he can take part in workouts with Quarterback Tom Brady during the off-season. Breer went on to say the 23-year-old tight end would join Brady’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero. Guerrero oversaw both Brady’s and wide receiver Wes Welker’s knee rehab.
Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez has rented a place in Manhattan Beach, Calif., so he can take part in workouts with Tom Brady this offseason.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 5, 2013
Also, Hernandez will work with Brady’s personal trainer Alex Guerrero. Guerrero oversaw knee rehab for both Brady and Wes Welker.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 5, 2013
In the past, Welker as well as fellow Pats receiver Julian Edelman have spent time with Brady in the off-season and Hernandez seems to be following in their footsteps.
Going into the 2012 season, I had very high expectations for Hernandez. After missing six games during the regular season with injuries, he had a very underwhelming year in terms of production for a guy of his talent; 51 receptions, 483 yards and five touchdowns. Not what you are hoping for after extending his contract last August for five years and up to $40 million dollars.
Hernandez must improve in two areas before the start of next season. He needs to become more durable, find a way to stay on the field and improve his overall catching ability. While Hernandez has been very good, he has too many dropped balls and has missed a lot of games in the past three seasons.
His plan to work with Guerrero and Brady over the next few weeks is certainly a good start.
Overall, the Patriots have two very talented young players at the tight end position. Yes, they have been very productive, but there might be cause for concern with Gronkowski and Hernandez needs to improve after having his worse season in 2012. New England has high hopes and expectations between these two players, illustrated by the nearly $90 million dollars committed over the length of their respective contracts.
Like many Patriots fans, I am hoping for both Gronkowski and Hernandez to make the necessary adjustments – on and off the field – in order to help this football team. Both players must take on the responsibility for these changes to show the team, management and fans, they were a wise investment.
Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!
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