USA TODAY - The NFL Players Association has filed a grievance on behalf of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez in an attempt to force the team to pay $82,000 in offseason workout bonuses.
The Patriots cut Hernandez on June 26, the day he was arrested on a first-degree murder charge in the slaying of acquaintance Odin Lloyd. Hernandez was indicted on that charge and multiple weapons charges last week. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held in a Massachusetts jail without bond.
Hernandez signed a $40 million contract extension in 2012, which included standard bonuses for offseason workouts. He earned $82,000 in bonus money for attending offseason activities with the Patriots from April to June while recovering from shoulder surgery. That money had not been paid when Hernandez was arrested and his contract terminated.
The NFLPA issued a statement Monday afternoon in which it said the union has filed the grievance to ensure the league isn't able to withhold money from other players in the future.
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"On behalf of all players, it is our responsibility to protect the rights in the collective bargaining agreement. We are not tone-deaf to what the allegations are in this case, but for the benefit of all players, there are important precedents here we must protect," the NFLPA said in the statement sent to USA TODAY Sports.
Hernandez's contract with the Patriots included $12.5 million guaranteed, $9.5 million of which has already been paid. The Patriots voided future guarantees, though $1.137 million of Hernandez's $2.5 million salary for 2013 became guaranteed on March 17, three months before police found Lloyd's body in an industrial park near Hernandez's home.
Hernandez's contract also included $3.25 million in deferred signing bonus to be paid in March 2014, money Hernandez's representatives could argue he has earned.