While the move came as a surprise, the Patriots had a plan.
They remained quiet, as they always do. But they knew all along what they would do when the time came.
Per a league source, the Patriots decided early in the process that, if Hernandez is arrested for crime allegedly occurring in connection with a murder or an investigation of a murder, he will be released.
While it’s possible the Patriots know more about the facts, circumstances, and allegations than the general public, it doesn’t matter. If/when Hernandez would be arrested, he would be getting cut.
And what a contrast that creates when compared to the way the Ravens treated linebacker Ray Lewis, who was charged with murder and then pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice 13 years ago. The Ravens unconditionally supported and defended Lewis, culminating in coach Brian Billick angrily telling reporters in the days preceding Super Bowl XXXV that they’re “not qualified” to even ask questions about the situation.
The Patriots, alternatively, have decided quickly and summarily that Hernandez is not qualified to continue working for them. It’s a decision that was made, we’re told, at the top of the organization, and it’s a standard that the team would apply to any other player or employee facing similar circumstances.