The total financial losses that Texans linebacker Brian Cushing will experience are coming into focus.
On the surface, he’ll lose four game checks. Based on his base salary of $395,000, which is divided into 17 equal checks, Cushing will lose $92,941 in 2010 pay.
He’ll also be subject to a forfeiture of signing bonus money, in the amount of 4/17ths of his 2010 allocation. (Our initial item on this matter was wr-wr-wr-factually incomplete, and we’ve since revised it, with an explanation that we were wr-wr-wr-misinformed as to the specific contents of the steroids policy with respect to bonus forfeitures.) As the 15th overall pick in the 2009 draft, however, there’s a good chance that Cushing’s “guaranteed money” came via devices other than a signing bonus. Due to the niceties of the rookie salary pool, teams use roster bonuses, option bonuses, and guaranteed base salaries in order to take full advantage of the rules that apply to the total payment to the franchise’s rookie class, and the restrictions on future growth.
And Gil Brandt of NFL.com has outlined the potential future damage to Cushing’s overall earnings. Per Brandt, Cushing could be out up to $2.6 million in salary escalators due to the suspension. The potential increase to Cushing’s 2013 salary would arise if Cushing qualifies for the Pro Bowl and participates in 80 percent of the team’s plays on defense in three of his first four seasons. In 2010, he’ll do neither. Thus, he’ll be required to meet both thresholds in 2011 and 2012.
An injury that knocks him out for three or four games in either season could be enough to keep him from getting to 80 percent of snaps. Also, the stigma from the positive test for hCG — and the shameful (in our view) P.R. campaign aimed at avoiding the stigma — could cause sufficient fans, players, and/or coaches not to cast a Pro Bowl vote for Cushing.
Meanwhile, Brandt reports that Cushing’s contract included a trigger based on winning the AP defensive rookie of the year award, resulting in a $2.219 million bonus. But Cushing met other alternative triggers, which means that he’ll keep the money even if he doesn’t secure the honor based on do-over voting that closes at 12:00 p.m. E.T. on Wednesday.