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Could Patriots get salary-cap space back? Hernandez indictment might help

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is in jail in connection to the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, now has been indicted for his alleged role in a double homicide from 2012 of two Boston men.

That's the chilling and horrific news.

But the team that once employed Hernandez is trying its best to recoup money it — in retrospect — foolishly gave him in the form of a lucrative contract extension that was signed about a month following the shooting in 2012.

The Patriots have made efforts to get credited back some or all of the $7.5 million in Hernandez money they currently are saddled with, which represents about three-quarters of the team's $10 million in dead money. Hernandez filed a grievance against the Patriots for payments for the 2013 and 2014 league years, including a deferred payment of $3.25 million (from his signing bonus, which was a total of $12.5M) that was due March 31.

NFL agent Joel Corry (via CBSSports.com) wrote about what might happen if Hernandez is charged, and it appears the Patriots now — based on the indictment, even without a conviction at this point — might have a leg to stand on to get that cap space back off their books.

If Hernandez is charged in connection to the July 2012 double murder in Boston -- before him signing his extension -- language in his contract should give the Patriots grounds to recoup his entire signing bonus and end his grievance. Hernandez's contract contains a clause where he represents and warrants that there weren't any existing circumstances when he signed his deal that would prevent his continued availability throughout the contract. Committing or participating in a double murder should meet this standard. There's another clause explicitly stating that the Patriots wouldn't have entered into the contract except for Hernandez's representations. At a minimum, the Patriots would gain $3.25 million in cap space from the unpaid signing bonus installment. Any additional cap relief would come only from money that was recovered from Hernandez, which may not be any given his circumstances.

It's unclear when that relief might come, or whether the NFLPA, which has backed Hernandez in his grievance, will back down from this. The Patriots can use whatever help they can get in this situation, especially given that Darrelle Revis is set to count $25 million for 2015 if the team — unlikely at best — opts to pick up his option.

For the Patriots, it's just business now. They are fully disconnected in every other way but financially.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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