A simple question has emerged in the aftermath of Seattle’s decision to release cornerback Richard Sherman at a time when Sherman wasn’t healthy: Can teams do this?
The short and obvious answer is “yes,” because they did it. The longer answer comes from Article 45 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Dubbed “Injury Protection,” this term gives a player who was injured during one season compensation for the next season, if he still can’t play due to the injury. Section 2 ensures the player 50 percent of the salary he was due to earn, up to a maximum of $1.15 million for 2018.
The money is paid in equal installments during the next season, unless the player signs a contract and passes a physical with another team. In Sherman’s case, it’s expected that his pair of Achilles tendon procedures eventually will result in Sherman passing a physical and playing this season.
Sherman’s situation would have been much more complicated for the Seahawks if his $11 million salary for 2018 had been guaranteed for injury. Since, however, 2018 was the last year of Sherman’s deal, the guarantees had already evaporated. So the Seahawks were able to unload his cap number, retaining at worst the responsibility to pay him $1.15 million for 2018.
At best, he’ll be joining a new team at some point before the season begins, and the Seahawks will be off the hook.