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Pats will take at least a $7.5 million cap charge for Hernandez in 2014

Aaron Hernandez

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) in the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012 in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)


One of the obvious questions that arise in the aftermath of the Patriots’ decision to cut tight end Aaron Hernandez is the cap consequences, if any, for the move.

While it’s trivial in comparison to the fact that this all stems from the death of Odin Lloyd, it’s relevant information moving forward for the Patriots.

For 2013, the Patriots will carry a $2.5 million charge for the portion of his $12.5 million signing bonus, paid last year. Hernandez’s base salary of $1.323 million is fully guaranteed, and so the cap number will remain $4.073 million unless and until the Patriots can finagle a way to avoid paying him. (Chances are they’ll try.)

Because the move comes after June 1, the balance of the cap charge will apply to 2014. That’s $7.5 million in signing bonus money, and possibly another $1.137 million in guaranteed salary. That’s $8.637 million that the Patriots will carry for Hernandez next year.

The Patriots can, in theory, reduce that money by blocking the guaranteed payment(s) or recovering signing bonus money. As to the bonus money, however, the Patriots have to recover it before they get the cap credit. Also, the decision to release Hernandez could prevent them from getting a penny back in signing bonus money.

The broader question, which we’ll address separately, is that the Patriots made this move without caring about the financial or cap consequences.