Jets running back Mike Goodson faces gun and drug charges that could, under the weapons portion of the case, put him behind bars for a mandatory minimum sentence of three years.
For the Jets, the challenge becomes what to do with Goodson while the court process plays itself out.
On Monday, owner Woody Johnson tiptoed around the crux of the problem. If they cut Goodson now, he walks away with a $1 million signing bonus that can’t be recovered. They can get some of the money back, and in turn can obtain cap relief, only if they let the process play out.
The key date in the process comes on June 12, when Goodson will have a pre-trial hearing. As pointed out by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, that falls in the middle of the team’s mandatory minicamp. If Goodson misses practice to attend the hearing, the Jets could penalize Goodson, at a minimum with a fine.
The problem for the Jets would be the plain language of Article 4, Section 9 of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. While the revised terms expand the situations in which all or a portion of a player’s signing bonus can be recovered, the provision makes no reference to partial reimbursement arising from a missed mandatory minicamp practice. Instead, the forfeiture process begins in training camp, and applies more forcefully in the regular season.
But the Jets can’t recover money from Goodson unless he’s still on the roster. That’s why the Falcons never released Mike Vick after he was incarcerated for dogfighting in 2007; to recover bonus money paid to Vick (and to get the cap credit that goes along with it), the Falcons had to hold their nose and refrain from cutting Vick.
For the Jets, the far better approach to the Goodson conundrum would be to stop channeling Clark Kent and explain in blunt, candid terms that there’s only one way to make a player answer financially for off-field misconduct — by keeping him on the roster while the legal process unfolds.
Of course, that kind of candor could open the Jets up to criticism that they’re more concerned about money than doing the right thing. But if the plan will be to keep Goodson around in order to eventually recover money from him, why not remove the confusion regarding the reason for not cutting him loose?