By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
June 28, 2013
Arguably no NFL team is more image conscience than the New England Patriots. Though the team released tight end Aaron Hernandez less than two hours after he was arrested and charged with murder, the Patriots now must deal with potential damage to their brand. First and foremost, owner Bob Kraft should be commended for his quick decision to release Hernandez, having little concern about the move’s impact on the Patriots’ bottom line. Regardless, releasing Hernandez might still be costly. His salary cap number for 2013 is more than $5 million, fifth most on the team. The number could increase to $7.5 million next season, even if Hernandez spends the year in jail. The Patriots undoubtedly will seek cap relief from the league.
It remains to be seen how much the negative publicity around Hernandez will affect the Patriots’ value. The team is worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. The Patriots’ brand value of $188 million is the second most in the league, behind only the Dallas Cowboys. Though the team has done everything possible to scrub Hernandez from Gillette Stadium and their website, it could take a lot of time for football fans and New Englanders to look past what happened.