Will Warner give back half of his signing bonus?

With all signs pointing to Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner calling it quits during a Friday press conference, there’s an intriguing subplot that eventually could become a primary story line.

Will Warner pay back to the team 50 percent of the signing bonus he received last season, when he inked a two-year deal to return to the Cardinals?

As we’ve said many times in the past, signing bonuses aren’t free money.  They’re advance compensation for future services.  In Warner’s case, it was $15 million in advance compensation.

“We’re ecstatic about the commitment the organization has made to us,” Warner said at the time.  “Now it’s my job for the next two years to go fulfill my part of the deal.”

If he retires, Warner won’t be fulfilling that second year — and thus he by all rights should give back $7.5 million.

Since he hasn’t announced his intentions for 2010, he likewise hasn’t said whether he’ll refund the money.  But since he’s the ultimate “do the right thing” guy, this one is a no-brainer.

And if for some reason he should claim that the issue of the $7.5 million has somehow slipped his mind, the Cardinals will refresh his memory.  This is the same organization that deducted the cost of a FedEx envelope from safety Robert Griffith’s signing bonus and, according to Griffith, locked the Gatorade fridge on Tuesdays, when the players are off.

44 responses to “Will Warner give back half of his signing bonus?

  1. “If he retires, Warner won’t be fulfilling that second year — and thus he by all rights should give back $7.5 million.”
    He should use it to buy three 30-second religious Super Bowl ads.

  2. Cardinals deducting Fed Ex envelopes… Redskins suing season ticket holders. Its really has become the No Fun League. The game we’ve loved has become another loveless disloyal machine.

  3. Clearly the team is putting away more money for ridiculous bowties for their owner, priorities people.

  4. I really hope that whatever he does, they make it public and they make it CLEAR how they handled it. Because I am not sure I can handle 8 months of PFT posts asking the question of whether he gave it back or not…and countless years of snide references to it whenever the word “signing bonus” is placed into any PFT posting. For example…
    “[insert player name here] signed a new 4 year/$40 million deal today which included a $20 million signing bonus. That means the average value of the contract is $10 million/year(unless he gets the Kurt Warner treatment, which means he gets $25 million the first year, then retires…allegedly)

  5. He is a tool if he quits….
    All the receivers were injured all year long, he should have an incredible 2010 season.

  6. Pointless question. Either he has to give it back or he doesn’t. He’d be stupid to give it back if it is legally his. What would he gift it to the Cards org? If it is not legally his the Cards would be stupid to give it up, again as a gift?
    This is just a stupid thread. Question should be whether or not he has to.

  7. My understanding was this $15 million bonus was for the 2 year contract. He received $7.5 million last year and would receive the additional $7.5 million for 2010 when he reported to camp for 2010

  8. Deducting the fed ex cost….lol I remember that one. PLease by all means rip on the Cards Florio

  9. I don’t know if he’ll give it back or not but I’m pretty sure God will be involved in his decision.

  10. Jesus Warner will get back to you about the money after he has a follow up meeting with God. Who will surely suggest that Warner donate that money to the Matt Lionheart Relief Fund that will be set up following his benching halfway thru the season.
    They should draft Tim Teblow, and keep God routing for them. But they won’t win a Super Bowl becuase just like Angels in the Outfield, he can only get you there. Not win it for you.
    God bless
    And yes God is a he bitches

  11. well if he doesn’t give itback, Florio will talk about it endlessly for the rest of the year

  12. I’m sure there is a clause in the contract that makes him pay back the prorated amount if he self-willingly ends the contract without fulfilling it. The NFL and its teams are not stupid idiots.

  13. It’s a Signing Bonus not a Duration Bonus. If they had intended it to be otherwise, then they should have just left it as part of his salary or at most been an advance on his salary. Neither of those are true. He owes them nothing.

  14. “They should let him keep it just for making the organization relevant.”
    It’d be a nice gesture. But a good businessperson would think of how that might complicate future business. You do that for Warner, then others will expect it.
    And let’s be candid: in any workplace, people just want to be treated fairly. Everyone in every workplace should expect that… and they’d be right. In a workplace, treating everyone fairly means treating them equally. You do that for Warner, you should do it for all Cardinals’ employees…. which isn’t going to happen.
    The Cardinals shouldn’t gift him that unearned bonus. They should simply make it up to him in less obvious, public ways.

  15. That FedEx story has been debunked long ago – it’s BS.
    As for the signing bonus, that’s an intriguing question. People have been saying that he has “11 million reason” to return this year, which is half of his $22m, 2-yr contract. But he took much of that money up front, and is due a small salary this year. But as pointed out here, $7.5m of that original $22m is “remaining” signing bonus, if you spread it out over the 2 years of the deal.
    Conventional wisdom says he’s retiring. I’m betting the other way – I think he comes back and finishes his deal and makes the question irrelevant.

  16. Couldn’t the Cardinals choose to recover a pro-rated portion signing bonus (not a good PR move)?
    Didn’t the Lions do that when Barry Sanders unexpectedly retired?

  17. signing bonuses are not the same in the private sector as they are in contracts with specific durations.
    Warner does owe them half his bonus if he only fulfills half of the contract by his own volition.
    If the Cards cut him after this season, he could keep his entire signing bonus because he was terminated by the club.
    “Good guy” Barry Sanders didn’t return his pro-rated bonus back to Lions when he retired early, instead choosing to give it to his church.
    I have a higher opinion of Kurt than Barry.

  18. It’s not an advance on salary. If it were, it would be upfront pay, not a signing bonus. In any job, a bonus is yours to keep the day you get it, with no strings attached. I wouldn’t give back half a Christmas bonus if I quit in June. I got a signing bonus when I started my current job, but I didn’t sign for a certain number of contract years … what percentage would you suggest I give back if I leave after one year? Three years? Is there some point where I’ve “used up” my signing bonus, and my employer should give me another one?

  19. “somlucci says:
    January 28, 2010 11:37 AM
    atleast we know Florio’s not going to stop bagging Warner even after he retires!!! ”
    What a stupid comment.
    Florio referred to Warner as a future (not potential) HOFer in the article about Gregg Williams.
    As far as I know, his HOF candidacy is still very much up in the air.

  20. They have a legal right to go after the bonus. If he breaks the two year contract, he should give back half. It works different than your Christmas bonus at work. you get those as a thanks for the hard work this year. Signing bonuses are given as a thanks for future services. This also keeps the annual salary down for cap purposes I think.
    In this case, I dont think the Cardinals will go after it because Warner has done alot for the organization and is as classy as it gets. But you never know with the Cardinals. They legally can though

  21. minhw0714 says:
    January 28, 2010 12:00 PM
    “Good guy” Barry Sanders didn’t return his pro-rated bonus back to Lions when he retired early, instead choosing to give it to his church.
    I have a higher opinion of Kurt than Barry.
    Gave millions to his church? Gee, what an asshat.
    You must be a bitter Lion’s fan. Only Lion’s fans are upset about him. Sorry he gave your favorite franchise legitmacy for 10 years. One can only carry an entire franchise for so long before he wants to leave. Think about it, he was such a beaten man, instead of paying back the money and agreeing to work another season and then be let go via free agency/trade/cut whatever, he instead decided to just stay home. God forbid he gave something back to the team, that basically robbed him of every reason to play the sport professionally, like actually committing itself to winning a Super Bowl instead of just getting to play in one game of the playoffs.

  22. “…and thus he by all rights should give back $7.5 million.”
    A lawyer citing what someone should do rather than their legal obligation? Sounds like another chance for Florio to hammer someone he’s hit multiple times in the past.
    Again- this is why so few people like lawyers…

  23. he should keep the 7.5mil and use it for plastic surgery on his wife.. it’ll take all that money and then some to make her look good.

  24. Florio…if you knew any facts about Warner’s contract ……you would be dangerous. He only got half of the bonus last year and is due the other half this coming year along with a base salary of 4 million…to equal the 11.5 mill that everyone is talking about.
    Get off the man already…he is not like your lover Favre who changes his mind more than his underwear.
    Warner has always been a class act and you are WAY to low class to be even thinking about printing a story about him. You just mentioning his name is bringing him down to a lower level…STOP TALKING ABOUT KURT WARNER!!!!

  25. Totally agree there is no room for “should” here, only a question of what is legally enforceable given the way the contract is written.

  26. He earned his money. If he didnt resign they would be stuck playing a bum of a backup. They wouldnt have even made the playoffs with that guy starting.
    Also, the 2 year deal lets the team keep control over him after this season, instead of losing him to FA.
    The team had to think this was a possibility. they should be happy they got what they did. He owes them NOTHING.

  27. If they can get it back they will, if he can keep it, he should.
    What is the right thing nonsense? That is what happens when a “contract” is not a contract and a bonus is really just an advance on the “contract”.

  28. Kurt Warner doesn’t OWE anybody ANYTHING except to do his best while he’s on the field–and no one could argue he’s done that. If Bidwell decided tomorrow to get rid of him, he would and no one would be talking about what the Cards owe Warner for making them competitive for the first time in their history.
    It’s no different than any other boss/peon situation. Everyone expects employees to give two-weeks’ (or more) notice but if the boss wants to fire them, they’re escorted out the door immediately–and only the big execs leave with a golden parachute.
    The terms of the signing bonus are laid out at the time the contract is signed. If it was merely a bonus for signing the contract, then it’s his, no strings attached. If it was divided over the two years, then he’s only received the first half anyway. Warner, like any other player, will abide by the terms of the agreement, whatever they may be.

  29. first of all thanks Kurt for the past few years…as an 18 year season ticket holder, your toughness will never be forgotten….florio, time to get a new warner poster, there is no doubt nothing left of the old one, after all the darts you throw at it…keep bashing the cards, coming from a tool like you, it’s amusing reading

  30. This is why I’d like to see NBC implement an “IGNORE FLORIO” button on this blog, so we can read Gregg and Michael’s quality work. I hope NBC is paying Florio much $$$ for this low-class tripe. How about reporting on the news, rather than manufacturing controversy, a la Limbaugh, Hannity, O’Reilly, Coulter, etc.

  31. Florio, why is it that you never have any hard facts but like to start BS all the time?
    I heard he was donating it to PFT so they can hire a real sports writer and fire your worthless a$$..

  32. Mike Im sure if you have realized this now that the Cardinals and Warner discussed it before they signed the 2 year contract. Some where in the contract it probably says how much if any Warner would have to pay back of his signing bonus if he retired before year 2.
    Him being a do the right thing guy means nothing if the contract says he doesnt have to pay back anything. Because if it said that then the right thing would be to pay back nothing.
    The contract could say he has to pay back a 1/4 of the bonus who knows. The guys who right up these contracts arent dumb everyone involved understands what has to happen if he doesnt play in the second year.

  33. OK, the “signing bonus” hit the cap last year, all of it.
    It had to since there is no cap in this upcoming year.
    When it hit the cap, they had to pay out the money, didn’t they ???
    Maybe Warner should write out a check to the State of Iowa to repay the food stamps that he collected before he became a star, would the Bidwells go after it then ???

  34. Voiceoffootball has it right. An ignore florio button would be a blessing. Rosenthal and Smith write facts and don’t try to start problems or inject their opinion on everything possible. It would be a MUCH BETTER site.

  35. Kurt, keep the money for your pain and suffering!
    Enjoy life and the family and wait on the HOF…you deserve it…..

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