Patriots Give Tight End Aaron Hernandez Contract Extension

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August 27, 2012 at 11:20am ET

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Aaron Hernandez will be a Patriot for many years to come. (FILE:USPresswire)

After all the tight ends Bill Belichick have selected over the years, he's probably pretty aware of just how lucky they were in 2010 to finally get it right after grabbing Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in the NFL Draft.

Since 2000 Belichick had taken at least one tight end in 9 out of 12 drafts, and after hitting the jackpot on both of these players it's obvious he has no desire to see them go anywhere anytime soon.

He's made the priority heading into 2012 making sure they're not going anywhere for a long time, and after locking up Gronkowski earlier this offseason, they've now reportedly locked up Hernandez through 2018.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter Hernandez, who's rookie deal expired after the 2013 season, received a 5-year extension, which comes on the heels of the six-year one signed by Gronkowski back in June and will keep him in a Patriots uniform for years to come and gives New England one of the most prolific duos in the NFL.

Wide receiver Wes Welker wasn't given a contract extension this offseason and ultimately signed his $9.5 million franchise tender, which opened up speculation about whether or not the reasoning behind that could have had to do with signing both of their tight ends to long-term deals.  That ended up being the case, and Hernandez has been a versatile player with Belichick working Hernandez at different parts of their offense.  The third year tight end has been split out wide and also used on rushing plays, making him a player that other teams have to account for when he's on the field.

The question now is what this could mean for Welker, who will be a free agent after this season. The veteran receiver has been seeking a deal which would have put him with some of the top players in the game, but New England was faced with a difficult decision as financially paying Welker the money he had been asking could have prevented giving both of these players their new deals, as well as hampered them in trying to get contracts done with the likes of Devin McCourty and others who are coming up on free agency.

So far this preseason Hernandez has been targeted 8 times with 6 receptions and 59-yards receiving.