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Patriots release tight end Aaron Hernandez

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Aaron Hernandez was taken into custody Wednesday. Hours later, the Patriots cut him. (USATSI)
Less than two hours after Aaron Hernandez was taken into custody by police, the Patriots have released the tight end.

The team issued this statement: “A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss. Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation. We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process. At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do.”

The NFL also issued a statement: "The involvement of an NFL player in a case of this nature is deeply troubling. The Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez, who will have his day in court. At the same time, we should not forget the young man who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Odin Lloyd's family and friends.'

CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports that the Patriots can try to recoup the signing bonus and other money they have already paid Hernandez, pending what happens to him legally. Regarding the salary cap, because it's post-June 1, Hernandez still counts roughly $4 million against the Patriots' cap, but the organization could get cap credits in the future.

Hernandez, a 2010 fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Florida, had 175 receptions for 1,965 yards and 18 touchdowns during his three-year NFL career. The Patriots signed him to a contract extension last August that included more than $16 million in guaranteed money.

New England will move forward at tight end with Rob Gronkowski -- who is recovering from back surgery -- Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui and Daniel Fells. Quarterback Tom Brady, meanwhile, will likely begin the season without his five top receivers from a season ago.

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