Hernandez contractual clause may not help Patriots get money back


With Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez facing double murder charges from an incident occurring before he signed a long-term deal that paid a $12.5 million signing bonus, the team surely will do whatever it can to try to recover as much of the money as possible.

As explained Thursday, their decision to cut him makes that effort much more difficult.  The Patriots should have retained his rights (like the Falcons did from 2007 through 2009 with Mike Vick), which would have allowed them to recover up to $10 million in signing bonus money, if Hernandez ultimately was unable to play from 2013 through 2016 due to incarceration.

CBS Boston has offered up a different take, based on a January 2013 report from former agent Joel Corry.  Said Corry at the time:  “Hernandez’s contract contains a clause where he represents and warrants that there weren’t any existing circumstances when he signed his deal that would prevent his continued availability throughout the contract.  Committing or participating in a double murder should meet this standard.  There’s another clause explicitly stating that the Patriots wouldn’t have entered into the contract except for Hernandez’s representations.”

The language cited by Corry doesn’t appear in the Standard Player Contract, which means that (if the report is accurate), the Patriots and Hernandez separately agreed to that language.  Even so, the presence of the language doesn’t mean that the Patriots will be able to recover bonus money in a way that conflicts with the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Paragraph 21 of the Standard Player Contract states that, if the player’s contract conflicts with the CBA, the CBA prevails.  And the CBA sets forth the exclusive procedure for obtaining a forfeiture of money paid to the player.

At Article 4, Section 9, the CBA spells out the circumstances that allow money to be recovered.  A “forfeitable breach” happens when a player under contract, for one of several reasons (including being in jail), fails to show up for work.  If the Patriots hadn’t cut Hernandez, and if he had been unable to show up for work from 2013 through 2016, they could have recovered up to $10 million of his $12.5 million signing bonus.

But they cut him.  By cutting him, they lost the ability to recover any of his signing bonus based on his failure to show up for work in any of the five years of the contract that the bonus covered, at $2.5 million per year.

The language Corry mentions, if it’s indeed in the contract, shouldn’t matter.  The CBA takes precedence.

And if the Patriots push the issue of the contractual language too aggressively, they’ll at some point invite more pointed questions from the media and fans about why they gave Hernandez a $12.5 million signing bonus without knowing everything there was to know about whether Hernandez had done or would do something that would keep him from working by virtue of his employment in a state-run license-plate factory.

29 responses to “Hernandez contractual clause may not help Patriots get money back

  1. So, essentially, they fully guaranteed the remainder of his signing bonus ($10 mil) because they cut him. Even in light of the most horrendous situations, I guess it’s better to pause and think out your actions before going for the knee-jerk reaction.

  2. More or less they had someone on their roster who committed murder while a member of the team…wow.

  3. Hopefully this means that there will be more money left for the families of the men that he murdered and something left to take care of his daughter.

  4. Distancing themselves completely from all things Aaron Hernandez following his arrest was the strategy regardless of what they’d lose.

    Pats are just trying to get back what they can, but they knew the consequences before deciding to terminate the contract last June.

  5. I am pretty sure Pats knew this.. You can’t really say oh we cannot cut this guy because we lose our money. Kraft I believe would have been prepared to lose that money instead of retaining this guy

  6. All that money is just going to be gobbled up by his defense team.
    No $$ left for victims children or family.
    But hey, the lawyers will be driving new Porsche’s when it’s all said and done…. Justice in America

  7. I dont see any possible way around cutting him. There is no way the Patriots could keep him as an employee after all of this, even if it they were successful in recouping some signing bonus money to cut him later on down the road. It was a tough situation and they chose the only option realistically available to them

    The best bet is when the victim’s families sue in Civil court, they can claim most of that money

  8. I don’t think the Pats were that concerned with recovering money from Hernandez. The most important thing was to cut all ties with him regardless.

  9. Give it to him. He’s got legal fees to pay….

    Wait, no forget that. Give it to me, I’ve got student loans to pay.

  10. You can’t keep a veritable serial killer on the roster for the rest of his 5 year deal just because the CBA requires you do in order to recover your signing bonus. The mere suggestion that the Pats did the wrong thing here is insane.

  11. Maybe they should sign Charlie Manson as well & keep him on the payroll to recover money down the line, LOL. What is wrong with people ?

  12. What’s the $ value of wiping a triple murderer off the books, getting rid of him ASAP for overall benefit of franchise ?
    higher than $12 mil that’s for sure

  13. The Pats did the only thing they could do under the circumstances by immediately cutting Hernandez.

    NFL players find all kinds of ways to get into trouble, but multiple counts of premeditated murder is entirely new ground.

  14. I hate the Pats but they did the right thing in cutting him ASAP regardless of what they stood to lose financially. It wouldn’t compare to what they would lose by keeping an alleged triple-murderer on the roster.

  15. I think the bigger question is what it is worth to a team, one that spends millions on advertising and public relations, to create the greatest possible distance between itself and such a horrific criminal.

    Yes, they probably lost some of the bonus money paid to him. But, by cutting him they did the best they could to push him away from the franchise.

    Sometimes there just aren’t good choices and you have to do what you have to do.

  16. They’ll never get the money back, as others have stated, and they did the right thing by cutting him when they did.

    I know it’s not my money, but things being what they are, they’ll be hard pressed to get a dime of it back.

    This guy really was something else huh?

    I have a beef with you, so I am just going to fill you full of lead.

  17. 1.) After reading what the CBA says about forfeiture rules – WHY on Earth would any team give out signing bonuses larger than $10 million dollars? If there is a problem you can only EVER get back a maximum of 10 million.

    2.) Why is there nothing in the CBA about players voiding their contracts in the cases of serious federal crimes such as MURDER!?!

    There should be language in the CBA that states clearly: “If you kill someone, you get nothing.”

  18. He was trained to be tough, to harness his violence, to never show any fear, to be ruthless, his coach taught him to treat opponents as enemies and show them total contempt. His coach also taught him to lie shamelessly. (Bill’s the best in the game).
    He probably scored high marks on all of these parameters as part of the Patriot way. However, these were also the traits of a homicidal sociopath.
    Maybe the NFL needs to be more diligent in educating players to be better citizens, somewhere along the way. I will probably be char-grilled, but it is still only a game.

  19. As sad as it may be, he will make millions and millions more selling his story. Catching passes by day from THE Tom Brady and being a serial executioner for fun by night. I am surprised Hollywood hasn’t already concocted a script based on that scenario alone. As crazy as it may be, millions will pay to see the story.

  20. Sunk cost no biggie, cut bait and run, besides that $$$ is probably getting gobbled up by his lawyers anyway since he seems to get indicted every couple of months. Freaking imbecile.

  21. Can’t see any fault with what the Patriots did. Had to distance themselves immediately from this guy.

    I just hate the smug look on his face. Wanna see how he looks after sitting in a jail cell for the next 60 years or so.

  22. The Patriots did the right thing by cutting ties with Hernandez, period. They did not seriously considered holding on to him to recoup any money. They are trying now to hang on to 3mil.+ of his signing bonus, but are aware that eventually they will lose that battle. Why not turn over the money now? If they do, it will be eaten up by Hernandez’ defense. If they can manage to hold on to it long enough, it could be used as award in subsequent civil cases, ending up in the hands if the victim’s families. It is a good example of trying to handle a difficult situation. Too bad other teams haven’t done the same, but would choose instead to defend a star player, help him beat the murder charges, payoff the families and allow him the freedom the victims had taken away. Let’s not forget the phony new man makeover, and the league itself jumping on the bandwagon, and subsequently ESPN joining in. Now considered a hero by many, he even gets a cameo in Draft Day. He is no Moses or David. Heinous.

  23. Well, if any team can figure out a way to recoup that money, it’s those crafty (Kraft-y) Patriots. And if they can’t, it should go to his victims’ families.

  24. When the movie comes out about all this–and it will–I figure Vin Diesel is a shoe-in for the lead role.

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