03-13-2007, 03:44 PM
At a time when more than a few teams are chewing up 2007 cap surpluses by handing out significant 2007 roster bonuses, a league source tells us that many teams are now shying away from using the roster bonus as a primary tool for giving the player up-front cash.
The reason for the reluctance? Under the new CBA, the only type of bonus that is subject to forfeiture is the signing bonus.
Before the CBA was amended in 2006 to include a host of player-friendly noneconomic terms (which apparently the NFL's negotiating team didn't bother to notice while trying to herd cats as to the revenue-sharing conundrum), teams were permitted to negotiate with specific players to include forfeiture provisions in all types of bonus payments -- signing, option, and roster, for example. It was an issue for discussion between player and club only, and the union butted out of it.
But it was still an evolving process. The Eagles, for example, gave receiver Terrell Owens a $6.2 million roster bonus in 2004, but did not extend the forfeiture language into 2005. Thus, the Eagles had less leverage to keep him in line when he went bonkos on them that year.
Since the CBA was revised to limit bonus forfeitures (and in the wake of the Ashley Lelie decision, which found that option bonuses aren't signing bonuses), teams are shifting back toward the signing bonus, which chews up less cap room in the current year because the total payment is prorated over several seasons. This gives the team protection against a sudden retirement, or a player's decision that he's not making enough money so he's not going to show up for practice.
Said the source: "If a club is currently writing a roster bonus in lieu of a signing bonus they are: (1) able to look into the future and predict it; or (2) smarter than the rest of us; or (3) brain dead because if a roster bonus is not subject to forfeiture the club will have no recourse if a player defaults, and somebody is probably getting fired.
"What you're seeing most clubs do today, who are trying to use up cap room, is doing a combination of roster and signing bonus and making a decision to take some risk (but not all) in order to use up some cap room and have less proration in the future. "
With that said, keep your eyes peeled as the draft classes of 2005 and 2006 move toward free agency. If/when the Ashley Lelies among the first-rounders decide that they want out of town, the teams will have little or no recourse because many of these players received little or no guaranteed money in the form of a signing bonus, due to the intersection between the limited number of years over which the signing bonuses could be spread and the slow growth of the rookie pool.

03-13-2007, 05:51 PM
Okay,that totally confused the hell out of me,now my head hurts.

03-13-2007, 10:00 PM
Took me reading it three times, but I understand it now.........................I think???