“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.”
In August of 2012, Hernandez signed a five-year, $40 million extension, with $16 million guaranteed (he already received the bulk of it as a signing bonus). But oddly, the contract did not contain the usual "failure to perform" clause—meaning that the Patriots could still be on the hook for most of the remaining guaranteed money, even if Hernandez is out of football or in prison.
Update: The NFL has released its own 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."