The news that 49ers tackle Anthony Davis plans to unretire after a year away from the game gives rise to what apparently is an unprecedented question for the NFL: What happens when a guy who has paid back signing bonus for a missed season returns?
Per a league source, Davis has indeed refunded to the 49ers the portion of his previously-paid signing bonus money that applied to the 2015 season. That’s a standard requirement of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. What’s not in the CBA, as PFT explained last year, are terms that would apply to a guy who sits out for a year, pays back bonus money, and then returns.
His contract was tolled for a year, with Davis due to earn in 2016 the salary he would have earned in 2015. So can the 49ers simply pay his salary but keep the bonus money that applied to 2015?
It’s not known how it will all play out. The NFL Players Association could take the position that the 49ers can’t have it both ways; either they should refund the bonus money for 2015 or cut Davis. They may cut him anyway, which would absolve him of any remaining bonus money, if he retires again.
However it plays out, it’s an issue the player, the team, and the union will have to confront if, as it seems, Davis will be returning.