With 49ers defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer still AWOL from the team, the team apparently will begin to play hardball with the 2008 first-round draft pick.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports that the 49ers will attempt to recover at least $960,000 from Balmer.
The 49ers would not comment on the matter, other than to say that they’re following “standard NFL procedure” for dealing with a player who has left the team. But since these situations are hardly “standard,” there really isn’t a “standard procedure” for addressing them.
One tool that the team may or may not use is the “five-day letter.” As we’ve recently explained, sending such a letter would allow the team to park Balmer on the season-ending reserve/left squad list if he doesn’t show up within five days after the letter is sent. Though it would toll his contract for a full year, the 49ers would have to be prepared to move forward without Balmer in 2010.
Though few first-round picks receive traditional signing bonuses due to the niceties of the rookie salary pool, Balmer reportedly pocketed $1.6 million up front on a five-year deal. Under the 2006 CBA, the Niners initially would be limited to recovering 25 percent of the 2010 signing bonus allocation of $320,000, which our calculator tells us is $80,000. If he retires, they can get the remaining 60 percent of the unallocated signing bonus money for the three years left on the deal, which equates to $960,000.
So if the 49ers are seeking $960,000, there’s a chance that they have been informed that Balmer never is coming back.
Balmer also is subject to fines of more than $16,000 per day for each day of his unexcused absence.
The reason for the absence remains a mystery. After initially receiving two days off to attend to a personal matter, Balmer didn’t return. Tracked down at his house in Santa Clara, Balmer told the San Jose Mercury News that he’ll be returning, and that the situation is being overblown.
One source with general knowledge of the situation speculates that Balmer’s girlfriend recently gave birth, given that she was seven months pregnant roughly two months ago. (We didn’t need a calculator for that one.) But if that’s the only reason for his absence, why wouldn’t the team or Balmer simply say so?
Regardless of how it all plays out, it’s a weird situation. And it likely would be a much bigger story if the 49ers were this year’s featured team on Hard Knocks.