Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has been charged with murder and firearms offences.

The charges were brought in a brief hearing at Attleboro District Court, just hours after the 23-year-old had been arrested and taken away in handcuffs from his Massachusetts home.

Hernandez pleaded not guilty to all charges but the judge ruled he would be held without bail.

Hernandez has been charged in connection with the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from the Boston area.

Lloyd's body was discovered on the morning of 17 June on an industrial park about a mile from Hernandez's home.

It has been widely reported that Lloyd and Hernandez were friends but had argued during a recent trip to a nightclub.

"The New England Patriots have announced the release of tight end Aaron Hernandez following his arrest" -

Hernandez, whose arrest followed several days of intense police activity in and around his home, was released by the Patriots this morning.

"The New England Patriots have announced the release of tight end Aaron Hernandez following his arrest in the investigation of a homicide last week in North Attleboro, Mass," read a statement on posted just 90 minutes after Hernandez was taken into custody.

"A young man was murdered last week and we extend our sympathies to the family and friends who mourn his loss.

"Words cannot express the disappointment we feel knowing that one of our players was arrested as a result of this investigation.

"We realize that law enforcement investigations into this matter are ongoing. We support their efforts and respect the process.

"At this time, we believe this transaction is simply the right thing to do."

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement on "The involvement of an NFL player in a case of this nature is deeply troubling.

"The Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez, who will have his day in court. At the same time, we should not forget the young man who was the victim in this case and take this opportunity to extend our deepest sympathy to Odin Lloyd's family and friends."

Hernandez played three seasons for the Patriots after being signed as a fourth-round pick in the 2010 Draft.

He starred as the Patriots won the AFC Championship in 2011 but then tasted defeat in the Super Bowl as New England went down 21-17 to the New York Giants.

Hernandez received Pro Bowl honours for his displays in the 2011 season and in August 2012 agreed a lucrative five-year contract extension with the Pats through to 2018.