As expected, the Patriots will not willingly pay another penny to Aaron Hernandez.
According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, whose article is unfortunately trapped behind a pay wall, the Patriots have “voided” all remaining guaranteed money due and owing to Hernandez.
This includes $2.5 million in future guaranteed base salaries and the final $3.25 million installment of his already-earned $12.5 million signing bonus. Per Volin, the Patriots also will refuse to pay $200,000 for workout and roster bonuses earned this year.
“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,” an unnamed team source told Volin. “We know the CBA. We are well within our rights.”
As to the $2.5 million in guaranteed base salaries, there will be no fight from Hernandez or the NFLPA. Multiple sources on both sides of the issue have told PFT that salary guaranteed for injury, skill, and salary cap can be voided if a player is cut for conduct unbecoming to the team.
But the Hernandez camp will argue strenuously that the Patriots have no right to withhold the $3.25 million in deferred signing bonus money. The money already has been earned. Just like the $9.25 million Hernandez already has received, he technically should get the remaining $3.25 million.
“That is as clear in his favor as the base salary issues is for the team,” said a source with knowledge of Hernandez’s position. “If the team tries to fight it they will lose, 100 percent.”
Hernandez’s position appears to be the correct one, as to the $3.25 million. It’s also likely that the $82,000 workout bonus must be paid, since Hernandez showed up and earned it. Ditto for the $118,000 roster bonus.
That doesn’t mean the team has to voluntarily cut the check. Even though the Patriots may lose, they are going to force Hernandez to fight for the money.
The team’s refusal to pay Hernandez another penny meshes with the organization’s decision to behave as if he never existed, dropping him from the team, scrubbing his stats from the official website, and launching a jersey exchange program allowing fans to trade a Hernandez jersey for a different one.