When word broke early monday morning on the new contract extension between Pro Bowl tight end Aaron Hernandez and New England, the good folks of Patriots Nation were elated. This new deal meant that Hernandez would be locked in through the 2018 season, along with fellow All-World tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who signed a six year extension earlier this summer that would keep him in the fold until 2019. Both players should be donning New England blue for the remainder of Tom Brady’s tenure with the team, who just may be entering the stretch run of his career. However, Hernandez’s deal arguably had an unintended victim. One of Brady’s most dependable targets over the last five seasons has likely become expendable after this investment of new money in the tight end. If Wes Welker’s days with the Patriots weren’t numbered after failing to negotiate a new deal this summer, Hernandez’s new contract likely sealed his fate.From NFL-AtL:
Wes Welker picked the wrong time to need a long-term contract extension. The slot receiver has learned the hard way this offseason that the New England Patriots value his services, but not like the young tight end duo that has transformed their offense.
NFL.com and NFL Network reporter Albert Breer confirmed Monday that Aaron Hernandez agreed to terms Monday on a contract extension. That follows Rob Gronkowski’s expensive long-term deal from earlier this year. Signing players to long-term deals at this young an age is a win-win. The Patriots save money and keep both players long term, while Hernandez and Gronkowski get security before almost anyone in their draft class.
While Hernandez’s deal doesn’t mean the Patriots can’t afford to keep Welker around, he certainly has no leverage on his side. He enters this contract battle on the wrong side of 30 with history leaning against him and a team that is evolving around him. The Patriots made a lucrative, long term offer earlier in the summer, but that offer was rejected and subsequently rescinded after Welker to his contract dispute public. I’m betting that right about now, he’s wishing he played that hand a bit differently.