In the aftermath of Aaron Hernandez’s arrest for murder and release from the Patriots, the NFLPA believed that Hernandez would be unable to recover his otherwise guaranteed base salaries for 2013 and 2014.
The NFLPA now believes otherwise.
The NFLPA has filed on Hernandez’s behalf a grievance seeking payment of $1.323 million in guaranteed 2013 base salary, along with $1.137 million in guaranteed 2014 base salary. The union also seeks payment of $500,000 for a guaranteed 2014 workout bonus.
The argument is simple; the amounts were fully guaranteed, Hernandez was cut, and Hernandez should still get the money.
The Patriots will argue, we believe, that the guarantees applied only to terminations made due to injury, skill (i.e., perceived lack of it), and the salary cap. Because the Patriots cut Hernandez pursuant to paragraph 11 of the standard player contract, which permits termination of employment when the player “has engaged in personal conduct reasonably judged by Club to adversely affect or reflect on Club,” the guarantees evaporate.
Again, the NFLPA agreed with that interpretation in June.
The grievance was filed on the same day that Hernandez filed, also through the NFLPA, a grievance seeking recovery of the final installment of his $12.5 million signing bonus. The $3.25 million isn’t due until March 14. Citing the refusal to pay the guaranteed base salary for 2013, the NFLPA has opted to seek a ruling on the $3.25 million right now.
That’s an argument Hernandez is more likely to win. The money was earned when he signed the contract in August 2012. The only potential argument against paying him hinges on whether he is charged with — and convicted of — the July 2012 murders of Safiro Furtado and Daniel Abreu. If he signed the contract knowing that he had murdered two people, there’s likely a potential legal argument that, if successful, would void the deal.
As to Furtado, Abreu, and Odin Lloyd, their families should promptly hire counsel and file suit demanding that any proceeds from these grievances (up to $6.21 million) be held in escrow pending the outcome of the wrongful death lawsuits against Hernandez. If they don’t, any money recovered by Hernandez could be long gone by the time the civil litigation ends.
He has a good chance the get the $3.25 million. The other $2.96 million arising from guaranteed salaries and workout bonuses will be much harder to recover.
Our guess is that the NFLPA opted to pursue both prongs in the hopes of making it more likely that Hernandez will at least get the $3.25 million.
Regardless, the families of the men he allegedly killed should be the ones who get that money. If/when “allegedly” is replaced with “actually.”