We’ve finally gotten our hands on the full contract between the Redskins and defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. And it appears based on the language of the contract and the relevant terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that the Redskins have little or no chance of recovering any of Haynesworth’s bonus money in the wake of his decision to skip this week’s mandatory minicamp.
Based on the terms of the contract itself, the Redskins have the right to recover not only the $21 million in signing bonus money paid on April 1 but also $4,285,716 of the $5 million paid to him in 2009. But the contract ignores specific language in the 2006 CBA, which dramatically limits the forfeiture of cash money from signing bonuses to two specific circumstances.
Here’s the relevant language, from Article XIV, Section 9(a) of the CBA: “No forfeitures of signing bonuses shall be permitted, except that players and Clubs may agree: (i) to proportionate forfeitures of a signing bonus if a player voluntarily retires or willfully withholds his services from one or more regular season games; and/or (ii) that if a player willfully takes action that has the effect of substantially undermining his ability to fully participate and contribute in either preseason training camp or the regular season (including by willfully withholding his services in either preseason training camp or during the regular season or willfully missing one or more games), the player may forfeit the greater of: (a) 25% of the prorated portion of his signing bonus for the applicable League Year for the first time such conduct occurs after the beginning of training camp until the end of the season for his Club, and the remaining 75% prorated portion of his signing bonus for the applicable year for the second time such conduct occurs during that period that year; or (b) the proportionate amount of his signing bonus allocation for each week missed (1/17th for each regular season week or game missed).”
In English, this means that skipping a mandatory minicamp places none of the signing bonus in jeopardy. Ever.
If Haynesworth fails to show up for even one day of training camp, the Redskins then can pursue 25 percent of the 2010 allocation of the initial $5 million signing bonus, and 25 percent of the 2010 allocation of the $21 million signing bonus paid this year. But if he shows up for training camp (and he reportedly plans to do) and for every game, he gets to keep his money.
And the Plaxico Burress grievance from 2009 means that Haynesworth keeps the money even if the team eventually suspends Haynesworth for conduct detrimental to the team. Basically, unless he holds out or retires, he keeps the money.
The only tangible consequence at this point arises with respect to the guaranteed nature of Haynesworth’s $3.6 million base salary in 2010 and his $5.4 million base salary in 2011. By ditching the mandatory minicamps, the guarantees have been voided. This means that, if they cut him, the Redskins most likely won’t have to pay him $9 million in future guaranteed money.
Still, as far as we can tell, Haynesworth and the NFLPA are right on this one. He gets to keep his money, even if he doesn’t really deserve to do so.