“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation,” the Patriots said in their statement. “We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”
Less than a year ago Hernandez signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract extension with the Pats, and his release today does have salary cap ramifications.
From a salary cap perspective, Hernandez was scheduled to count $4.073 million against the Patriots’ salary cap this season. That figure was comprised of a $1.323 million in fully guaranteed base salary, up to $118,000 in “per game” roster bonuses, an $82,000 workout bonus and $2.55 million in signing bonus proration.
The “per game” roster bonuses are non-guaranteed and long gone, which leaves signing bonus proration ($2.5 million from last year’s signing bonus plus $50,000 from his 2010 signing bonus) and the workout bonus. There have been conflicting media reports about the level of protection the Patriots received regarding the $2.46 million in fully guaranteed base salary that Hernandez was due over the 2013 and 2014 seasons. An arrest might void those guarantees, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported last week that the clauses doing so are not present.
Because the release of Hernandez occurs after June 1, the cap hit will be spread over the 2013 and
2014 seasons. Here’s the annual breakdown:
2013: If the base salary guarantees in the contract do void, Hernandez will have a $2.632 million cap figure, a cap savings of $1.441 million for the Patriots. If the base salary guarantees — $1.323 million in 2013 and $1.137 million in 2014 — do not void, Hernandez will count $5.092 million against this year’s cap, an increase of $1.019 million.
2014: The final three years of signing bonus proration — $7.5 million — are scheduled to accelerate onto the team’s 2014 cap.
According to salary cap data maintained by “Shutdown Corner,” the Patriots were $8.33 million under their adjusted cap number of $129.152 million for the 2013 season. The Patriots could eventually receive cap credits if they successfully recover portions of Hernandez’s signing bonus, which is where the financial aspect of Wednesday’s release comes in.