Patriots settle Aaron Hernandez contract grievance, freeing millions in salary cap space

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The New England Patriots will have millions of dollars in additional salary cap space to utilize for the 2020 season after settling a lengthy contract grievance involving the late Aaron Hernandez, a disgraced player convicted in 2015 for the murder of Odin Lloyd.

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The Patriots received a $2.55 million credit toward their 2020 salary cap after reaching the settlement, ESPN reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. The team released Hernandez immediately after his 2013 arrest in connection with Lloyd’s death.

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The exact terms of the Patriots’ settlement on the grievance were not immediately known.

Hernandez’s release came less than one year after he signed a five-year, $40 million contract extension with the Patriots. In October 2013, the NFL Players Association filed a pair of grievances against the Patriots on Hernandez’s behalf seeking more than $6 million in withheld guaranteed money.

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Hernandez was convicted in 2015 on first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The former Patriots tight end committed suicide in prison in 2017, shortly after he was acquitted in a separate double homicide case.

Hernandez’s conviction was briefly vacated after his death in accordance with state law because he died while the case was on appeal. However, Massachusetts’ highest court reinstated the conviction in 2019.

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Aside from the settlement on the Hernandez grievance, the Patriots received a $4 million credit after settling a dispute with former wide receiver Antonio Brown. The Patriots released Brown after just one game last season and will pay him a $5 million portion of his guaranteed $9 million signing bonus.

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