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Patriots call Hernandez release “the right thing to do”

New York Jets v New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 21: Aaron Hernandez #81 of the New England Patriots leaves the field during a game with New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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So much for a double standard in sports.

The Patriots have released tight end Aaron Hernandez, roughly 90 minutes after he was arrested on a charge that has not yet been identified.

“A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss,” the Patriots announced. “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.”

It’s a shocker, for multiple reasons. First, the Patriots have abandoned a key player in their offense. Described by Tom Curran of CSN New England as a Swiss army knife, Hernandez can line up in many spots and do many things for the New England offense.

Second, the move prevents the Patriots from ever recovering a penny of the $12.5 million signing bonus from his 2012 contract extension worth a total of $39 million. It remains to be seen whether the Patriots will try to avoid paying $3.25 million in a deferred payment due on March 31, 2014, and whether they’ll try to wipe out base-salary guaranteed of $1.323 million in 2013 and $1.137 million in 2014.

Then again, the Patriots may not care about the money. They’re making a strong statement that they have no use for Hernandez, which makes us wonder what the NFL and the Patriots have learned via their own investigations regarding the murder of Odin Lloyd and Hernandez’s behavior in its aftermath.