BOSTON (CBS) — He’s been a great young player since the Patriots drafted him in the fourth round in 2010. Now, they have decided to make him one of the cornerstones of the franchise.

Aaron Hernandez signed his five-year and near-$40 million extension earlier this week and then opened up to the media. The tight end said he thought this would be the case.

“I knew it was coming, just cause, when [Rob Gronkowski] got it, I knew there was a good chance I was next in line,” he said. “Now that it happened, it’s definitely a blessing, and [I’ll] take it in. I’m excited to go on with my life.”

He spoke to reporters at the Patriots’ Charitable Foundation Gala and said the whole experience made him very emotional.

“As soon as we started talking about contracts, I was emotional from that day on,” he said. “Honestly, it’s hard for me here [at the gala] to stay, keeping my mind off it, and it’s just, like I said, it’s surreal. Probably when I’m done with this conversation I’ll get some tears in my eyes. But it’s real, and it’s an honor.”

Now the 22-year-old, who is originally from Bristol, Conn., can stay and basically work close to home. It was something that he was proud to share with his family.

“I called them and told them obviously what the contract was, and the basics about about it,” he said. “They were all crying. I was crying right with them. This is probably one of the best days of my life. I’ll remember this day forever. I just hope I keep going, doing the right things, making the right decisions so I can have a good life, and be there to live a good life with my family.”

The Pats have locked up their two young tight ends and they are lucky to have them.

Aaron’s Gift For Kraft

After getting his big contract extension, one of Aaron Hernandez’s first gestures was giving Robert Kraft $50,000. The tight end did it to benefit the Patriots Charitable Foundation.

“One of the touching moments since I’ve owned the team — knowing that this is our charitable gala tonight — Aaron came into my office, a little teary-eyed, and presented me with a check for $50,000 to go to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund,” Kraft said. “I said ‘Aaron, you don’t have to do this, you’ve already got your contract.’ And he said ‘No, it makes me feel good and I want to do it.'”

Mr. Kraft saw the donation as a way of one of his players giving back, because the Pats have given them some financial security.

“That made me feel good because part of the thing that we learned early on is that we have a lot of young men who come into this business, and they come from humble financial homes, and part of what we try to do is make them understand is that there is a psychic income involved in giving back both your time and your financial resources, if you can do that,” Kraft said.

As for Aaron, it was a way of telling Mr. Kraft and the whole Patriot organization, “Thank you.”

“He didn’t need to give me the amount that he gave me, and knowing that he thinks I deserve that, he trusts me to make the right decisions, it means a lot,” Hernandez said of Kraft. “It means he trusts my character, and the person I am, which means a lot, cause my mother, that’s how she wanted to raise me. They have to trust you to give you that money. I just feel a lot of respect and I owe it back to him. Not only is it $50,000, cause that’s not really, that’s just the money that really doesn’t mean much, with the amount given, it’s more. I have a lot more to give back, and all I can do is play my heart out for them, make the right decisions, and live life as a Patriot.”

Follow Levan Reid on and on Twitter @LevanReid all Patriots’ season long!

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