The Patriots agreed to a five-year contract extension with tight end Aaron Hernandez that could tie him to New England and All-Pro sidekick Rob Gronkowski through the 2018 season.
The deal includes $16 million in guaranteed money, including a $12.5 million signing bonus, according to the Boston Globe. He will average $7.5 million per year under the new deal, which totals $37.5 million.
Hernandez, 22, was a fourth-round pick in 2010. He has 124 receptions for 1,473 yards and 13 touchdowns and has also lined up at wide receiver in preseason games. Hernandez aligned as the running back in two games last season and had eight carries for 92 yards.
Quarterback Tom Brady offered high praise for Hernandez last February before the Super Bowl loss to the Giants, saying Hernandez might have the best hands on a roster that also includes franchise designated wide receiver Wes Welker.
The Patriots signed Gronkowski, a second-round pick in 2010, to a six-year, $54 million contract extension in June.
Hernandez had two years left on his four-year, $2.785 million rookie contract, and was scheduled to earn $540,000 in base salary this season.