Patriots Salary Cap Hit & Loss Of Production Are Big Following Release Of TE Aaron Hernandez

The New England Patriots wasted no time in releasing tight end Aaron Hernandez following his Wednesday morning arrest and now they will suffer big salary cap ramifications as a result.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN on Twitter, the Patriots have forfeited all rights to recoup bonus money or salary given to Hernandez, who signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension last summer, through the CBA.

Hernandez was scheduled to count $4.73 million against the Patriots salary cap in 2013, but will now count $5.01 million now that he has been waived, according to Schefter, which assumes the Patriots will be unable to recover any of the bonus money or salary already paid to the tight end.

Being as Hernandez was a post June 1st termination, the Patriots now figure to have a dead money charge of $7.5 million against their 2014 salary cap number as that was the left over signing bonus amortization that has to be accounted for moving forward.

On top of the salary cap issues, the Patriots have now lost seven players during the offseason that accounted for 75% of all receptions in 2012 and 70% of all receiving yardage. As I pointed out last week, those numbers could climb to 89% and 87% respectively depending on the status of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has had numerous surgeries this past offseason on his arm and back that could prevent him from being ready at the start of the season.

The Patriots attempted to pilfer Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders away this past offseason when they signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet, but the Steelers chose to match it in lieu of receiving a third-round draft pick this year as compensation. There was no way that the Patriots could have foreseen what would ultimately happen with Hernandez, so it is ludicrous to suggest that they should have signed him to a larger offer sheet as he quite simply wasn\’t worth more than that. Signing Sanders to a longer term offer sheet instead of one that was good for only one year would have likely made it even easier for the Steelers to match, assuming of course they did so without overpaying him.

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