Aaron Hernandez may lose more than his freedom in connection to a homicide investigation that has police searching his Massachusetts home.
The New England Patriots tight end also stands to lose up to $37 million in salary and bonuses is he ends up in prison in connection to the murder of Boston semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
Hernandez has been under investigation since Lloyd’s body was found last week in an industrial park. Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend, was seen with the Patriots player hours before his death. Police have been to Hernandez’s house several times this week to gather evidence, but charges have not yet been filed.
Aaron Hernandez could suffer financially if he is charged and convicted. The new collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 allows teams to recoup signing bonuses if players are imprisoned or suspended, and Hernandez got a $12.5 million signing bonus in his current contract extension.
The change came after the New York Giants lost a court battle to withhold a $1 million payment of Plaxico Burress’ signing bonus after the wide receiver went to prison for a weapons violation. After the Burress incident, the league wanted to make it easier for teams to withhold or recoup money if players are sent to prison, retire, or suffer an injury during a dangerous activity outside of football.
Aaron Hernandez was paid $6 million of the bonus when he signed, $3.25 million in March, and is set to be paid $3.25 million more in March 2014.
Should he go to prison, Hernandez could lose the bulk of his salary as well, USA Today writer Mike Garafolo explains:
“So of a deal that was worth $40 million over five years, Hernandez is guaranteed to earn $3.226 million of it (the first $2.5 million of his signing bonus, his $540,000 base salary from 2012, a $104,000 roster bonus last season and this year’s $82,000 workout bonus), despite the fact he’s already been paid the other $6.75 million in signing bonus that is subject to being recouped.
“Of his base salaries this season and next, Hernandez was to have $2.46 million fully guaranteed if he was on the roster this spring, though those guarantees are subject to being voided as well.”
Aaron Hernandez has already taken a financial hit, even before charges are filed. On Friday he lost his endorsement deal from sports nutrition company Cytosport.