Aaron Hernandez struck gold after only two years in the league with the Patriots, signing what the Boston Globe confirmed to be a potentially $40 million, five year contract.

While many have complained that Patriots have squandered money on old veterans who have run their course in the NFL (Fred Taylor, Joey Galloway, Albert Haynesworth), the Patriots have shown this offseason that they are willing to spend big money on a young core. The Patriots front office is setting a new precedent for itself by signing such young players so soon, even ones as freakishly gifted as Rob Gronkowski.

If Gronkowski and Hernandez remain healthy, it's going to be a continuation of the highest quality receiving core, possibly excluding the Randy Moss-Wes Welker combination in 2007.


Pats fans who carry a lot of "haahht" will be celebrating signs of Deion Branch's return to the Patriots receiving core. Donte Stallworth, his main competition for the spot in the receiving core, was released Monday, along with wideout Jabar Gaffney and defensive tackle Gerard Warren, to make room for the 75 man roster.

Branch, 33, will be riding against the waves of age this season if he ends up making the final cut, but it is no secret he's one of Tom Brady's favorite receivers in the league. While he won't be posting numbers like Wes Welker or the two stud tight ends, the former Super Bowl MVP be an ace in Brady's and Belichick's sleeves.