Could Hernandez be considered a wide receiver?


Could Hernandez be considered a wide receiver?

Rob Gronkowski signed his new deal just about a month ago and already folks have begun to wonder what kind of contract will be given to New England's other young tight end, Aaron Hernandez.

We may not know the answer for quite some time given that Hernandez is under contract with the Patriots through the 2013 season, but it's still an interesting question nonetheless.

With Hernandez and Gronkowski as two of the focal points of New England's offense last season, they set all kinds of records and helped the Patriots make Super Bowl XLVI. In all likelihood, Bill Belichick would like to keep those guys around for as long as possible.

What makes Hernandez's case special is that although he is listed as a tight end on the team's roster, he could be considered a wide receiver given the variety of spots at which he lines up in New England's offensive sets.

He's such a unique player that defining his position on the field is difficult. At the negotiating table, it may be even tougher.

If the Patriots want to slap Hernandez with the franchise tag after the 2013 season, they would want to pay him as a tight end since the franchise number for those big guys is less than that for receivers. Hernandez's next contract negotiations could get complicated if he demands to be paid like a wide receiver.

The Boston Globe's Greg Bedard touched on that issue today. He spoke with someone who's dealt with the Tight End vs. Wideout debate before: Jermichael Finley's agent, Blake Baratz.

The team is going to argue it doesnt matter where the guy lines up and what he does, hes a tight end. Our argument was, when you make an argument on where they are lining up, what kind of stance theyre in, whether theyre running routes and the percentages that Jermichael was doing that. To me, thats no different than if Wes Welker is in the slot or James Jones is in the slot, Baratz told Bedard.

The teams going to say he was a tight end in college, he sits in the tight end meeting room, and hes a tight end in the media guide, and on websites hes a tight end. Thats all great, but our argument was whats the definition of a tight end? To us, that says he plays tight to the end, which is the traditional definition.

When Finley was up for a new deal last year, he made an argument that he should be considered a wide receiver if he was to be franchised. The Packers eventually came to terms with Finley, giving him a two-year 15 million deal, essentially splitting the difference between the values for franchised tight ends (5.446 million) and franchised receivers (9.515 million).

If Hernandez feels like he might get franchised a couple seasons down the road, will he ask to be paid like a wideout? And will that help him at the negotiating table? No way to know just yet. But there is an argument to be made, and it will be interesting to see if that changes the way we label players' positions.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”