Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 6/28/13
The Patriots made the tough decision to part ways with one of their most talented players on Wednesday, and now they need to move forward. Aaron Hernandez‘s connection to a murder investigation and eventual arrest on first-degree murder charges led the Patriots to cut ties with the Pro Bowl tight end. The move was difficult enough, considering the Patriots believed in him so much that they handed him a $40 million extension last offseason. But, even beyond the money and broken trust, the Patriots are now left with a major hole in the middle of their offense. Hernandez was a special player out on the football field. His size (6-foot-1, 245 pounds) and skills as a pass catcher made him one of the toughest assignments in the NFL. His versatility, allowing him to line up all over the field, only added to his abilities and made the Patriots’ offense even more dangerous. So, with training camp right around the corner, Bill Belichick and the Patriots have a lot of work to do in trying to figure out how to account for Hernandez’s absence on offense this season. There isn’t really a player with the same skill set as Hernandez in the league right now, which should make that search pretty daunting. Rob Gronkowski, whenever he’s fully healthy, will help the cause, as will guys like Jake Ballard, Michael Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells and maybe even undrafted rookie sensation Zach “Sunshine” Sudfeld. But finding a way to make up for Hernandez’s production will be tricky. There are still some guys still hanging around in free agency that could help. So, take a gander at the options the Patriots may be looking at to help fill the void — prior team is listed in (parentheses). Click here to see free agent tight ends and wide receivers the Patriots could pick up >> Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Patrick Kane generating significant trade interest

Why Alabama will and won't win the National Championship

Tom Brady: ‘It’s been such an enjoyable offseason’

Andrew Luck: Reggie Wayne is not a traitor

LeBron: You don’t have to win championship to be great team

‘Concussion’ director: No compromises made for NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Kevin Sumlin: Texas A&M players have 'chip on their shoulder'

WATCH: Elvis Andrus steals home against Padres

Seahawks went on Hawaiian vacation to ease SB tension

Robert Kraft: Deflategate 'most overblown story' in NFL

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Jim Tressel once sent touching note to family of Michigan OL

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top 10 storylines for Week 1 of college football season

Underdogs: Hopefuls that can shock in the World Cup

Manfred digs Shoeless Joe a deeper grave

Why Mike Trout ain't right

The Opening Drive: Jamal Anderson warns UM fans before heading to Salt Lake City

Best and worst MLB players in August

RG3 blames intern for liking Instagram post trashing owner

Four most surprising roster cuts from NFL teams

Raiders cut Trent Richardson

Caroline Wozniacki smoking cover of ‘Rhapsody’

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker