Did Losing Aaron Hernandez Hurt the Patriots?

2012 wasn’t the best year for one of the strongest teams in the National Football Association, the New England Patriots. The Pats, as fans like to call them, lost the AFC championship to the Baltimore Ravens and with it, their chance for the Superbowl. But while that was bad, it was what happened later in the year that truly hit the team hard. On June 26th, 2013, one of the star players for the Patriots and one of their hopes for the future, Aaron Hernandez, was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player who was found shot execution-style in the back of the head half a mile away from Hernandez’s house.

The Patriots immediately released Hernandez from the team hours after he got arrested and the team seemed to move on. However the fact remains that Aaron Hernandez was one of the strongest players on the Patriots and his loss was definitely felt by the team, regardless of all the success they’ve had since his arrest. Hernandez was one of two players (the other being Rob Gronkowski) that the Patriots were building a team around for the future. He was young, powerful, and had the ability to play well in multiple different positions depending on the needs of the team and the play at the time. While he might have been faced with injuries, the size of his contract (a $12.5 million signing bonus, $16 million in guaranteed money, and a max of $40 million in additional money) showed that Bill Belichick and the Patriots were willing to put faith in him.

After Hernandez got arrested and the Pats dropped him, people were curious as to how the offense would deal with his loss. It turns out that they dealt incredibly well with it and while there were some growing pains, the Pats started off the season 4-0. But to those who knew the team well, it was obvious that there were struggles and kinks needed to be worked out. It took until game 5 before the team started playing as smoothly as before and for a team like the Patriots, that’s a long time. Still, it seems as though the team hasn’t been all that negatively affected and they’re still playing incredibly well.

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