The fight between the New England Patriots and the NFL Players Association over the money that tight end Aaron Hernandez was scheduled to receive will commence shortly as the NFLPA is preparing to file a grievance on Hernandez's behalf over an unpaid $82,000 workout bonus, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports 1 reports.
Hernandez was scheduled to receive the $82,000 workout bonus, which was included as part of his rookie contract, on Aug. 1. The Patriots have not paid that amount to Hernandez, who has been held without bail in Bristol (Mass.) County Jail after being charged on June 26 with first-degree murder in the June 17 killing of Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez spent much of the offseason in Los Angeles, but according to Garafolo, the 2010 fourth-round pick out of Florida had participated in a large enough portion of the offseason program to receive that payment. Unless the Patriots change course and make the payment to Hernandez, the NFLPA will file a grievance.
The battle over the $82,000 workout bonus is expected to be the first in a series of battles between the Patriots and NFLPA over money that has been paid or is owed to Hernandez, who signed a five-year, $37.5 million extension with the Patriots on Aug. 27, 2012.
Hernandez's extension included a $12.5 million signing bonus, of which $3.25 million is scheduled to be paid on March 31, 2014. The Patriots are expected to withhold that payment as part of their effort to recover the $10 million from last year's signing bonus that will be prorated against their salary cap over the next two seasons ($2.5 million in 2013, $7.5 million in 2014). That effort will be hindered by the Patriots' decision to place Hernandez on waivers after he was arrested at his North Attleboro, Mass. home on June 26.
According to Article 4, Section 9(a)(ii) of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player who is "unavailable to the team due to conduct by him that results in his incarceration" has committed what's calll a "forfeitable breach" and may be required to forfeit the portion of the signing bonus (or roster bonus, option bonus, reporting bonus) for each year that a breach occurs. Had the Patriots kept Hernandez on their roster during his incarceration, and if the duration of his incarceration was as long (or longer) than the years remaining on his contract, the Patriots would have a clear path towards recovering the $10 million that remains on the signing bonus, including the $3.25 million deferred payment that is due next March. Even though that money has likely been spent, the Patriots would at least receive some salary cap relief down the road for that amount.