Aaron Hernandez was released by the New England Patriots less than two hours after he was arrested last Wednesday. Considering law enforcement officials opted not to reveal the charges against Hernandez until his arraignment several hours later, we were left to assume that the team knew something we didn’t. Otherwise, would they have acted so quickly?
According to one of the Boston Globe’s Patriots sources, they would have. On Friday, a high-ranking Patriots executive reportedly told the Globe that the team had no knowledge of Hernandez’s murder charge before cutting him. Apparently the exact charge was irrelevant once it became clear the 23-year-old was arrested in connection with a murder.
“Did it matter to us? No,” the source said. “We were not going to have somebody on the team that’s close to a murder.”
The executive added that Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft and others decided the previous week — when Hernandez’s name first surfaced in the murder investigation — that they were going to cut ties with the tight end if he was arrested regardless of the charge. The source also claimed several people in the New England front office expected Hernandez to be charged with obstruction of justice and were “taken aback” by the first-degree murder charge.
As for Hernandez’s contract, the Patriots have voided all of the $5.91 million he was still owed in guaranteed money. Many have speculated that Hernandez will be able to collect some money because of language in his contract, but the team feels it is protected. And if not, they’ll likely make him sue for the money.
“(The contract) was guaranteed for skill and injury, but it wasn’t guaranteed for personal conduct that cast the club in a negative light, and that’s why we cut him,” the executive said. “We know the CBA. We are well within our rights.”
As we have seen, the Patriots have moved quickly to distance themselves from Hernandez, scrubbing him from their statistical existence and offering free exchanges on any of his jerseys. From the sound of it, they were planning to do all that even if he wasn’t charged with murder.