The New England Patriots promptly released tight end Aaron Hernandez following his arrest, and it made some wonder if the Patriots had inside knowledge of what Hernandez’s fate would be at the arraignment. When Hernandez was charged with first-degree murder and five lesser charges, more people began to wonder if the Patriots knew something we didn’t. Shortly after his arraignment, it was reported that the Patriots would have released Aaron Hernandez regardless of what he was arrested for; the Pats decided a week earlier that they would release Hernandez if he was arrested for anything.
New England Patriots former tight end Aaron Hernandez (left) stands with his attorney Michael Fee as he is arraigned in Attleboro District Court. Hernandez is charged with first degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd. Mandatory Credit: The Sun Chronicle/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin is reporting that the New England Patriots did not have inside knowledge of Aaron Hernandez’s fate and murder charge, and this is cited by a high-ranking executive on the team who spoke anonymously. He backed up the report that the Patriots decided a week earlier to release Hernandez if arrested for anything, and he added that the Patriots honestly believed he would be arrested for obstruction of justice and were just as surprised as many of us were at the swift murder charge.
This quote stood out from the Globe’s report, “We had no inside knowledge. Did it matter to us? No. We were not going to have somebody on the team that’s close to a murder.”
The Patriots handled the Aaron Hernandez situation with class, and it is interesting to hear from an executive on the team that the Pats were in the same boat as we were by not having inside knowledge of Hernandez’s charges. They simply didn’t want somebody this involved with a murder on the team, and this came from the Patriots “brain trust” and their decision made last week.
Now it is about moving forward, and the Patriots have moved forward by voiding Hernandez’s guaranteed money under grounds that are obvious to all of us. They will still have cap hits in 2013 and 2014, but it sounds like they won’t have to give Hernandez the guaranteed money he received in last year’s extension. The Patriots should be off the hook for paying a likely murderer and gang-banger, and the Patriots are set to save $5.91 million in that aforementioned guaranteed money that has been voided.
The rest of Volin’s piece, which I highly recommend clicking and reading through, contains must-read stuff about the Patriots cap situation with Hernandez and how they believe Hernandez’s contract, as defined in the CBA, is only guaranteed for “skill and injury” and not, well, murder and “conduct detrimental” to the team. The source close to Volin believes the team is within its rights to void Hernandez’s guaranteed money, and I would definitely agree with them. We’ll see if the NFLPA takes action, but I highly doubt they will. The Patriots are also trying to get back the bonus money they previously extended to Hernandez, but that’s going to be tougher to obtain.