The New England Patriots have announced the release of tight end Aaron Hernandez following his arrest in the investigation of a homicide last week in North Attleboro, Mass.
The New England Patriots issued the following statement: “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.”
Apparently the Patriots aren't waiting for due process to run its course here. This is a damning sign for Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots will walk away from the embattled TE and his guaranteed money and move on with a less than 100% Rob Gronkowski, Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui on the roster. Another player to monitor is rookie 6'7" Zach Sudfeld out of Nevada. Sudfeld went undrafted, but had a really impressive pro day and the fact that the Patriots picked him up during all this turmoil may be telling. The loss of Hernandez as a weapon ultimately hurts Tom Brady. The Patriots could move towards a more run-oriented attack led by Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. We'll have a full rankings update with all the fallout later today, but don't expect Ballard or any other TE to just step in and fill the hole left by Hernandez.