Jan 20, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) reaches for a pass during the first quarter of the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium. The pass fell incomplete. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Hernandez Released: Quick Analysis

The New England Patriots released tight end Aaron Hernandez this morning after their former 4th round draft pick in 2010 from the University of Florida.  Hernandez was an integral part of the offense the past three seasons and was expected to contribute into the future after receiving a 5-year $40 million contract extension.  However, recent investigation of the contract numbers by website OverTheCap revealed that only $2.5 million of the $12.5 million signing bonus has been paid out by the Patriots to Hernandez. Therefore, the team is better protected from salary cap charges with the release of Hernandez than was initially reported.


OverTheCap indicated:


The Patriots still have an actual payment of $3.25 million to be made to Hernandez on that signing bonus which is not due until 2014. If the Patriots chose to release him for conduct they would likely withhold that payment which would lead to the grievance process putting things in the hands of an arbitrator to decide what money is an is not owed to Hernandez and what money can be reclaimed. The process is straightforward if they allow the system to play out if they believe jail will occur.


In addition (and importantly):


Salary guarantees protect a player from skill, injury, or salary cap termination. They don’t protect a player for release due to personal conduct. Per the CBA a player can be released for the following: “You have engaged in personal conduct which, in the reasonable judgment of the Club, adversely affects or reflects on the Club.” So if Hernandez has put himself in a situation where he becomes more than a person of interest and an actual suspect in murder investigation or admits some participation in a crime there should be an avenue to release Hernandez and avoid the payment of his 2013 and 2014 salaries.


The release of Hernandez shortly following his arrest is a strong statement by Owner Robert Kraft, President Jonathan Kraft, Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio, and Head Coach Bill Belichick of their belief in, and affirmation of, “the Patriot Way”.


The Patriot Way is the ethos and methodology used–often by outsiders–to explain how the New England Patriots handle their team top to bottom.  It was defined well by Andy Benoit of the New York Times in his NFL Blog, the Fifth Down:


The Patriot Way is the embodiment of every cliché known in sports: no “I” in team; let your play do the talking; one step at a time; just trying to get better, doing whatever it takes to win. It’s pretty straightforward stuff that trickles down from the owner Robert Kraft to Coach Bill Belichick to everyone else. Belichick’s Patriots are so business-oriented that they themselves rarely even talk about The Patriot Way. The phrase is mainly the outside world’s way of explaining the culture of this very successful organization.


Coach Bill Belichick is notorious for eliminating any and all distractions from playing football.  By releasing Aaron Hernandez right now, almost a month before training camp commences, the distraction is gone for the other players. Players have a month to let the story blow over, and after the first day of camp, there is no need to address the issue. Once the players, coaches, and team officials make their statements (if they choose to), the issue goes away and the focus is on roster spots and playing football.


For the team, they free up a roster spot to add another tight end like free agents David Thomas or Dallas Clark to replace Hernandez on the team (be sure to see the recent piece about these two on MusketFire.com by Lead Editor Joe Soriano, New England Patriots Rumors: Dallas Clark, David Thomas Targets?).  Also, undrafted free agent tight end Zach Sudfeld impressed in the OTAs and mini-camps and has an excellent opportunity to carve out a role on the roster.


The New England Patriots organization has sent a shot across the bow to all their players, all the other teams in the league, and to anyone paying attention that as an organization there is one way, and one way only: the Patriots Way.

Next Patriots Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep1:00at Miami DolphinsBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Aaron Hernandez Bill Belichick New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots Personnel Moves Patriots Roster

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.willie.509 Joe Willie

    He’s going to be charged with murder face it -The Pats cut him so quick for the money on contract they owe him–its not about character–Pats a great character team? what a Joke–They signed Albert Haynesworth and chad Johnson–character players?– Pats history video gate- haven’t won any Superbowls since–Kraft gets bitched by a comie autocrat pocketing his ring and he wussies out–then he gets a stripper GF just months after the big grief show for his late wife who had all the money—–now a star player kills a friend— The Jets were ambushed by the media circus for trivial garbage—I cant wait for this football season—I cant wait.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      What are you talking about? Releasing him now doesn’t somehow get the Patriots out of paying those bonuses. Only a truly cynical person would try to spin this the other direction, really man? Now you are just coming off as a blatant Pats-hater. I’m not a Jets fan, but you aren’t going to see me going around and calling the Jets organization “a bunch of idiots” or anything for Mark Sanchez dancing. C’mon man. Plus, how is signing Johnson and Haynesworth reflective of the Pats being a classless organization? How is trying to give a chance to two maligned players wrong? They took risks on them and cut their losses when those two didn’t get their acts together.

    • http://sbpra.com/paulvsuffriti Paul V. Suffriti

      Hernandez is not a Patriot player anymore……end of story.

    • Hal Bent

      Chad Johnson was a model citizen in New England…he was cut because he couldn’t catch the ball or recognize and react to defenses. Haynesworth was a no-risk signing that did not work out.
      As of right now, the Patriots have not waivered in their philosophy of team over anything else…they will give a second chance, but like with Randy Moss, once a player puts self before team or is a distraction, he is gone. The focus is all on the football field.
      The Jets had a media circus because their bombastic coach invited HBO into his locker room and created headaches for his team instead of minimizing them, as a coach should do for the benefit of his team.

      • http://www.facebook.com/joe.willie.509 Joe Willie

        –Rex didn’t invite HBO the owner and since fired GM did –after that Rex didn’t want anything to do with the program—Rex has done nothing close to SPYGATE remember that! Never been fined by the NFL–the rest is just media garbage–The pats pick up troubled players in the draft like Aaron Hernandez in the 4th rd -and scrap heap player like Haynesworth -to save money. Kraft and Belicheat doesn’t believe in paying players any real money -they want it all for themselves like the Pigs that they are. The media circus is camped in foxboro this yr–and as far as Sanchez goes–I wish he was the one who was hanging with ur murdering TE these past few weeks. Jets have a new QB this yr Geno Smith–get used to that name—Brady is 36 and soon to be history. And let me repeat 1 more time- Rex has never done anything close to SPYGATE ok? cant wait for the 1st Thursday night game–the Jets will put Brady out for the year if he doesn’t flop and take himself out 1st.

  • http://sbpra.com/paulvsuffriti Paul V. Suffriti

    The Pats did the right thing by releasing Hernandez…..time to focus on football and the competition for a spot on the roster. It would not surprise me if they sign a veteran TE…..I like what I have seen so far with UDFA TE Sudfeld.

    • Hal Bent

      Agreed, Paul. Sudfeld is intriguing, and I can’t wait for camp to see more of him. Also, I was very surprised about the lack of $ paid to Hernandez, too. Most signing bonuses are upfront and the Pats seem to have protected themselves with the contract for just this type of incident.