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Former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez clears waivers

In a week full of surprises, the expected finally happened on Thursday. Aaron Hernandez passed through waivers unclaimed, a source told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

While Hernandez technically is free to sign with any team, the first-degree murder charge is not the only caveat.

NFL teams were told Thursday that any future contract agreement reached by Hernandez prior to the resolution of all six charges would not be approved until Commissioner Roger Goodell holds a hearing on the matter, a source told Rapoport.

In the unlikely scenario that a team decided to take a chance on Hernandez while the criminal proceedings continued, Goodell still could overrule the contract agreement and might or might not impose a suspension on Hernandez.

Rapoport's report calls to mind the precedent set by Goodell when Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games (later reduced to four) under the personal conduct policy in 2010 despite never being charged with a crime.

Considering the severity of the charges piling up against Hernandez, any NFL suspension likely would be of the indefinite variety.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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