Hernandez is here to stay

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Hernandez is here to stay

Over the summer, I wondered if Rob Gronkowski's extension might equal good news for Wes Welker. The argument being that with the highly-prioritized Gronk signed to a long term deal, the Pats would now have greater clarity to deal with the short term.

This afternoon, I'll wonder the same thing, only this time with Aaron Hernandez as the source of long term clarity.

First of all, I love the extension for Hernandez. With he and Gronk wrapped up for seven and eight years, respectively, the foundation is in place and the path is cleared for Tom Brady to play well into 40s. Is it weird that that's the first thing that comes to my mind? Either way, there's no doubt that securing the GronkHernandez combo is good news for the Pats. But what about for Welker?

I guess if my Gronk post taught me anything, it's that before asking that question, we should address this one: Are there any other young guys who the Pats are in a rush to lock up long term?

On that note, here's a list of notable players who will become free agents after this season: Kyle Arrington. Patrick Chung. Sebastian Vollmer. Julian Edelman. Dane Fletcher. Danny Woodhead.

And after next season: Kyle Love and Brandon Spikes.

So what do you think?

Personally, I don't think Arrington, Edelman, Fletcher or Woodhead are quite there. I think Chung, Vollmer and Spikes might deserve consideration but neither of the three has proven himself worthy of a long-term commitment. I think Love just signed a new deal last week. And with all that being said, I think that (short of a major injury) signing Welker to an extension should be the Pats No. 1 priority next off-season.

Of course, it won't be easy. Assuming they don't slap the tag on Welker for a second season, No. 83 will be an unrestricted free agent. And with that's happened you wouldn't think that he'll be in the mood to take a hometown discount. Or maybe he would? After all, from the start he's made it clear that he's more interested in being a part of this team than playing hardball. So maybe he'd taken a little less to play a few more years with Brady?

Especially since, after today's events, Brady guaranteed to play for at least seven more years. (I know. I know. Just let me go with it.)

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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.”