The New England Patriots are apparently going to make Aaron Hernandez fight for more than his freedom.
Last summer New England signed Hernandez to a five-year $40 million contract extension, which included a guaranteed $12.5 million bonus. According to Pro Football Talk, the Patriots are cutting off the rest of the guaranteed money in Hernandez’s contract.
Citing a report from the Boston Globe, the Patriots have “voided” the remaining $5.75 million in Hernandez’s deal as the 23-year-old tight end is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of friend Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez is currently in police custody after he was arrested Wednesday, and has been denied bail twice. The Patriots released him less than two hours after he was arrested, cutting ties with the player they took a chance on in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Hernandez is technically still owed $2.5 million in base salary for the 2013 season, and the remaining $3.25 million of his signing bonus. He is also due $200,000 in workout and roster bonuses. Even from a jail cell, Hernandez can challenge the Patriots for the rest of his money.
According to the report, New England will have to put up a serious fight with the player's union if it hopes to withhold the rest of the signing bonus, but is completely within its rights to deny Hernandez his base salary.
“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,” a team source told the Globe. “We know the CBA. We are well within our rights.”
Along with Rob Gronkowski, Hernandez was seen as the future of the Patriots offense but is potentially facing life in prison if he is convicted.
Despite the obvious talent he displayed in three years at Florida, Hernandez fell to the fourth round of the draft due to concerns about failed drug tests. The Patriots took a risk, and it paid off for three seasons. Hernandez has appeared in 38 games, making 175 receptions for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Now the Patriots are completely distancing themselves from Hernandez. They have even given fans the chance to exchange Hernandez’s jersey at the club’s pro shop at Gillette Stadium.