The New England Patriots wasted little time in severing ties with Aaron Hernandez upon his arrest Wednesday morning. According to multiple reports, Hernandez has been charged with first-degree murder – as well as five additional gun-related charges – in the June 17 shooting death of Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez, 23, becomes the first NFL player to face murder charges since the Panthers’ Rae Carruth was charged in 2001, per Lindsay Jones of USA Today.
He was released by the Patriots less than two hours after he was arrested in conjunction with the murder investigation of the 27-year old Lloyd, whose body was found less than a mile from Hernandez’s house in North Attleborough, Mass.
In a statement regarding his release, the New England Patriots released the following:
“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. 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.”
The NFL followed the Patriots in releasing a statement on the matter, through spokesman Greg Aiello:
“The involvement of an NFL player in a case of this nature is deeply troubling. The Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez, who will have his day in court. At the same time, we should not forget the young man who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Odin Lloyd’s family and friends.”
The Massachusetts State Police announced early on Wednesday morning that the charges for which Hernandez was arrested on would not be released until he appeared in court Wednesday afternoon.
In releasing Hernandez, the Patriots will have to absorb just over $5 million worth of a salary cap hit, as nearly 95 percent of his contract became guaranteed on March 17, according to a USA Today report. The hit for New England will not just be this season, as the three years of his prorated signing bonus will be consolidated into the 2014 season, totaling $7.5 million against the cap.
Hernandez, a fourth-round draft pick out of Florida in 2010, had accumulated 175 receptions for 1,956 yards in three seasons with the Patriots. He has scored 18 touchdowns and was named to the 2011 Pro Bowl.