Two years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded for Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer. The deal went through even though Plummer never reported to Tampa, and the deal specifically was negotiated with that possibility in mind.
So when Plummer didn’t report, the Bucs pursued him for millions in previously paid signing bonus money. Eventually, Plummer agreed to pay $3.5 million for the privilege of never playing again.
In the case of defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who was traded to the Raiders four days ago and still hasn’t reported for work, the exposure would be significantly lower.
Seymour’s most recent contract was signed in 2006, after the current Collective Bargaining Agreement was adopted. As a result, a deliberate withholding of services results in the potential forfeiture of 25 percent of the current year’s signing-bonus allocation.
Per a league source, Seymour’s allocation for 2009 is only $1.335 million. So, if the Raiders or the Patriots attempt to recover bonus money, the maximum forfeiture is, for now, $333,000.
If Seymour sits out the full season, he’d potentially have to pay $1.335 million. Likewise, if he ultimately shows up halfway through the year, he’d owe the portion of the allocation corresponding to the number of games he has missed.
The question that remains unresolved is whether the Raiders or the Patriots would be responsible for chasing the money. The Raiders, as we’ve reported, will take the position that a failure by Seymour to report requires a return of their 2011 first-round selection. The Patriots apparently are poised to claim that Seymour is now Oakland’s problem, and that there will be no givesy-backsies when it comes to the draft pick.
Eventually, Commissioner Roger Goodell might be asked to sort through this mess.
“Eventually” could come sooner rather than later. The Raiders commence preparations tonight for Monday night’s game against the Chargers. So if Seymour doesn’t show up today, the chances of the veteran making a positive impact on his new team in Week One will be close to nil.
And the chances of the Raiders pulling the plug on the deal will only increase.