A high-ranking New England Patriots executive, who spoke to The Boston Globe on condition of anonymity, said the team did not know tight end Aaron Hernandez would be charged with first-degree murder, as well as five weapon charges when the team released him 90 minutes after he was arrested.
The source reiterated to the Globe late Friday that the Patriots’ brain trust, led by Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick, decided late last week to cut Hernandez if he were to be arrested in connection with the murder in any way. The source said the team’s leaders expected Hernandez to be arrested for obstruction of justice, and were “taken aback” when he was charged with murder later that afternoon.
“We had no inside knowledge,” the source said. “Did it matter to us? No. We were not going to have somebody on the team that’s close to a murder.”
Hernandez signed a seven-year, $39.768 million contract with $16 million guaranteed in August 2012, with a $12.5 million signing bonus that is prorated over five years.
According to the Globe, Hernandez has already collected $10 million from the deal, but the Patriots wont have to pay all of his remaining guaranteed money, which is $5.91 million. The Patriots will also take a smaller cap hit this year of just $2.55 million but will have a sizable hit in 2014 before Hernandez’s contract is completely removed from the books starting in 2015.
“It 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 source said. “We know the CBA. We are well within our rights.”
Hernandez’s 2014 cap number will be $7.5 million. The Patriots have $9.215 million in cap space for 2013 that can be rolled over to next year to help cover Hernandez.