Patriots play hardball with Aaron Hernandez

It’s no surprise, but the New England Patriots are taking a hard-line stance with former tight end Aaron Hernandez.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Patriots will not pay Hernandez's $82,000 workout bonus after Hernandez was charged this summer with murder and five additional gun charges. This most likely sets the table for a tricky battle involving Hernandez's five-year, $40 million contract he signed with New England in 2012.

For example, Hernandez performed his duties last spring with workouts and rehabs. Technically, he earned the $82,000 bonus. But New England does not want to set a precedent by paying out bonus money now that Hernandez is no longer on the team. It's also a prelude to the Patriots battling Hernandez over a $3.25 million guaranteed bonus next March, which New England reportedly doesn't want to pay.

The Patriots put themselves in a tougher spot to recoup money by cutting Hernandez before his guilt or innocence has been determined. It will be weeks and possibly months before the legal system runs its course with Hernandez. So this is just the beginning.