New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) watches the action from the sidelines during their first NFL preseason football game against the New Orleans Saints in Foxborough, Mass. , Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.

The New England Patriots have announced they signed TE Aaron Hernandez to a five-year contract extension.  The extension keeps Hernandez in Foxboro through the 2018 season.

Hernandez along with fellow TE Rob Gronkowski form one of the most potent tight end duo’s in NFL history.  Recently the team signed Gronkowski through 2019.

The deal calls for a total of $37.5 million added onto the nearly $2.4 million he has left on his rookie contract signed in 2010.  The third year player will get a guaranteed $16.5 million with $12.5 million in a signing bonus.  When paired with his current contract, Hernandez can earn nearly $40 million over the next six seasons.

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photo credit: ap photo