Obviously, there are far more important things happening than football in the investigation involving Aaron Hernandez, 23, in regards to the murder of 27 year-old Odin Lloyd. However, if the Patriot TE is suspended or arrested during this upcoming season, then it could have a drastic impact upon the three time Super Bowl champions.
This offseason has brought a world of uncertainty and challenges to the Patriot offense. Wes Welker departed for the Denver Broncos and Brandon Lloyd also left for free agency. Additionally, Rob Gronkowski seems to be in surgery every week, and his status for the start of the year remains shaky at best. Throw in the potential loss of Hernandez, and the Patriots could be without their top four receivers from a year ago when the season opens up. So where does the team go from here?
Bill Belichick and the front office have addressed the concerns at receiver by adding Danny Amendola and Michael Jenkins through free agency and by drafting Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce last spring. However, the Hernandez situation coupled with the Gronkowski uncertainty leaves the Patriots barren at TE.
Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, and Michael Hoomanawanui are the only three TEs currently on the roster. While there is some talent and experience in that trio, they cannot replace the production that Hernandez or Gronkowski would provide. Especially in an offense so dependent on production from the TE spot, Hernandez and Gronkowski are essential. So the Patriots must decide if they will continue with what they have, or look to trade of free agency to bring in some help.
This Hernandez disaster could not have come at a worse time for the Patriots. If he becomes unavailable, then this will truly test the greatness of Tom Brady and the success of this offense would fall squarely on the shoulders of No.12. Keep an eye on this developing situation and its potential impact on the Patriots as well as the AFC.