As the New England Patriots announced, releasing Aaron Hernandez two hours after he was arrested for the charges of murder in the first degree was the right thing to do. Not because of its footballing implications on the franchise, but because they don’t want to be involved in something like this.
People try to compare this to the case of Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens over a decade ago. The Ravens stuck by Lewis, who was eventually charged with something minor compared to the initial suspicions. It turned out quite well for both sides.
But that happened right after winning the Super Bowl, with an entire offseason ahead of them. The Ravens had time to make a decision and mull things over. The Patriots? Not so much, not with training camp so close, and at least the evidence presented so far looking like it’s going to be very hard for Hernandez to get away from the charges.
And yes, despite what it means for the Patriots financially (although they will try to get the money back, just like the Falcons did with Vick), cutting Hernandez loose seemed like the only option.
For the 2013 season, the Patriots will carry $2.5 million from the $12.5 million signing bonus paid to him last year. His $1.3 million base salary is fully guaranteed, so the cap number for Hernandez will remain at $4.07 million, unless they find a way out of it.
However, because the release happened after June 1, the balance of the cap charge will apply to 2014. That means $7.5 million in signing bonus, and probably another $1.137 in guaranteed money. That’s $8.637 million that the Patriots will carry for Hernandez next year.
The Patriots will try and block the guaranteed money or getting back some signing bonus money, but from a salary cap standpoint, releasing Hernandez was quite a painful thing to do.