And now, any NFL team can claim him for the 2013 season within the next 24 hours.
However, chances are slim that another team will take that risk. New England released Hernandez on Wednesday, the same day he was arrested on murder and gun charges. The other 31 teams have until 4 p.m. ET Thursday to claim Hernandez -- and the rest of his $40 million contract. The safe play for other teams is to let the legal process play itself out.
"I would say almost zero," ESPN's Chris Mortensen said Wednesday on "SportsCenter" of Hernandez's chances of being claimed.
Hernandez's guilt or innocence is yet to be determined. But the immense distraction and potential legal ramifications were enough for the Patriots to distance themselves immediately. We will find out by tomorrow evening if the NFL's other 31 teams will do the same.