Exploring timing on possible cap relief

ORLANDO, Fla. -- One of the questions that seems to surface weekly from followers is when there might be a resolution in the New England Patriots' pursuit of salary-cap relief with tight end Aaron Hernandez.

The team has a $7.5 million dead charge on its cap for Hernandez, and could recover about $3.25 million of it.

The question is "when?" and when Bill Belichick was asked Tuesday morning, this was his answer:

“We went through a similar thing with the [Jonathan] Fanene situation a year ago, and there are rules in place as to how those situations get handled from a timing standpoint. It’s not random. There is a schedule and how things get reconciled. Whatever the process is, that’s what it is. It’s not a random process. It’s reviewed, it’s scheduled, and if there is a credit, there’s a process for how it’s credited. If it isn’t, there is a process in how it’s accounted for. So we’ll comply with the league’s salary-cap rules, just like we always do and whatever they are, they are. And whatever the results are, they are.”

From a timing standpoint, Fanene was released by the Patriots in August of 2012, and the grievance wasn't settled until September of 2013.

With the final installment of Hernandez's signing bonus having been due in March of 2014, if that process mirrors Fanene from a time perspective, it could be as long as another year before we learn of the result.