Niners claim they never know a player’s workout incentives


The 49ers want everyone to believe that they didn’t know that cornerback Tarell Brown had $2 million riding on his decision to participate in offseason workouts.  And they’re trying to make the implausible slightly less implausible.

As explained by Matt Maiocco of on Tuesday’s edition of PFT Live, the 49ers contend that they don’t check the various workouts bonuses and incentives until after the conclusion of the offseason workout program.  Which means that the 49ers never know who is at risk of losing money, which keeps them from ever having to face the dilemma of warning a guy that he should think twice about not showing up for the offseason program.

At least one league source with knowledge of the mechanics of workout bonuses and incentives doesn’t believe the team’s version.  But even if the 49ers are telling the truth, it’s not a good look.

The approach would put money and cap space over preparation for the coming season, while also giving the team cover when the question comes up regarding whether they could have or should have warned a player who was in danger of losing his money.

Regardless, the problem remains.  Brown is out $2 million, and the team contends it didn’t know that Brown was in danger of having his base salary drop from $2.925 million to $925,000.

As one league source with knowledge of the situation but no connection to it suggested to PFT, it shouldn’t matter.  Whether the 49ers knew or didn’t know, the source believes they should give Brown the benefit of the doubt and push his salary back to $2.925 million.

The source also opined that the team’s failure to do so suggests that, even though Brown remains a starter, the 49ers apparently don’t regard him as a valued, long-term member of the team.

50 responses to “Niners claim they never know a player’s workout incentives

  1. How are the workouts “voluntary” if there is 2 mil riding on them? Like your boss saying “I have given you a huge bonus! Provided you spend your summer holidays ‘volunteering’ at the office. Isn’t that generous?”.

  2. So Brown doesn’t fulfill the commitments needed to earn his salary, yet the team should give it to him anyway? What is this world coming too? This is on par with not letting kids fail in school or lose in games anymore. Everybody should get positive reassurance and credit even though they didn’t do what was expected of them? What a joke.

    Brown and his agent are grown men who should know the terms of the contract that was signed. It’s up to the team to babysit players and ask if they are aware of their contract terms every year. If Brown had attended offseason workouts the way he should have regardless of his contract, this wouldn’t have happened.

  3. Best overall corner on the team, tackles, competes and makes plays.. He’s a way better player then Carlos Rodgers.. Didn’t even offer goldson a deal, pretty much trew Alex away, and isn’t showing any respect to T Brown… Once the singletary and nolan guys are all gone there goew harbaughs career in sf.. And o yea they even gave frank gore a hard time.

  4. When did employers start calling their employees to make sure they came to work so they can provide for their families?? If you don’t show up you do not get paid it is simple as that.

    If I could sit my @$$ at home & still get paid then I never would go to work. I would probably be 500 lbs. & I would be the best beer guzzlin video gamer alive!!

  5. I think the 49ers in good faith should split the difference with him and give him half of the bonus he missed out on. That way they don’t look like a greedy franchise trying desperatly to cut corners and save money. also, it shows good will toward all their players now that they are playing for ownership that cares about their players..Whats a million dollars to a franchise like that. Its a Happy meal to the normal person…

  6. A billion dollar company doesn’t know what their high paid employees make? Really? That’s the story they’re going with? What d-bags.

  7. The team knew when it was written but multiply 53 players, practice squad members, employees, staff, etc times the number of contracts they have entered into and it’s not a stretch that they didn’t know, or care for that matter, at the time of the oversight. The player and his agent have one playing contract to deal with the burden should fairly be on them to know the terms of their employment.

  8. Yes, he is good. But Brown needs to be responsible for what his contract says. Everyone reading this story would know damn well what they would have to do to if $millions were on the line. If the Niners pay him, how is that fair to the other players on the team that followed their contract. Not an easy situation but he has no one to blame but himself and his agent. Does your boss call you and say hey make sure you show up to work today or our company will have to save $2 million?

  9. All 3 parties share some blame, but ultimately T. Brown is responsible here and pretending otherwise is a sad reflection on American society. He signed the contract and he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain – end of story. It would be a bad precedent for the franchise to set by giving Brown the money after he skipped offseason workouts. Other player’s agents will use that against the franchise in the future if they cave on this. Heck, probably all of these anonymous “sources” are probably agents who want to use this situation to their advantage. The Niners will gladly bump Brown’s salary back up to $2.925M – if he is willing to accept a team friendly extension like Justin Smith did.

  10. If this is a hard hit for him and he needs money he could always issue stock certificates in himself at $250 per share that provide no return on investment and then when it comes time to re-up his contract his fans/”owners” can vote whether he stays or goes.

  11. Greatgabbert,

    Uhh both of those things you described are indeed voluntary. You dont want to show up to OTA’s? Thats cool, theres no fine.

    You dont want to do the voluntary summer work? Okay, no fine, but you also dont get the bonus…its the employees choice, ergo voluntary. Not that difficult.

  12. You think the N word divides a locker room? Try not paying a player. More guys will talk about that issue than the other.

  13. Wait are you people really bashing the Niners on this ? It’s the dudes contract blame him or his agent . The entitlement of all you morons is pathetic . What’s next are you gonna tell me we should just compete in sports for fun and not have a winner or a loser ? Life’s not fair …suck it up and take responsibility for your own failures . If I had millions hell even hundreds at stake I would have known .

  14. I find it a bit strange that the 49’ers claim they don’t check on the bonus until after the off season workouts are completed. If you are going to check why not check before instead of after. They were just hoping someone would screw up and it would save them a sizeable amount of cash.

  15. If my son missed out on 2 million dollars in salary just because he did not show up for work he would get his ass kicked.

  16. Why do people think it is the employer’s job to babysit grown men? It’s not. They told him when he signed the contract what needed to be done to get paid. That’s it. From there on, it is the employee’s responsibility to fulfill the contract. Trying to place blame on the team is rediculous. That is spoiled and entightled thinking, expecting others to tell you what to do. Take responsibility of your own paycheck. Guess what, if I am out of sick or vacation days, I don’t expect my employer to keep track for me, and if I take a day, when I have none left, I don’t get paid. And that is on me!

  17. Apparently, none of you have ever heard of the legal principle that BOTH parties to a contract owe each other a duty to act in good faith and to deal fairly with one another.

    NFL teams raise holy hell if the water boy misses OTAs. These coaches will say something like, “I’m disappointed we only had 99% attendance” as a direct shot to the water boy for missing.

    Where was SF and Harbaugh on minute ONE when they noticed Brown was missing??? They intentionally kept silent to avoid paying the $2M. I’d take Brown’s case in a second for a reduced contingency.

  18. Like the other guy said it’s pretty simple, it’s the player’s and/or agent’s fault. If the team chooses not to fix it, then the player can walk when their contract is up.

    The one difficulty may be the salary cap. If Joe Lunchpail screws up something and loses money, his boss can probably fix it with a bit of hassle or creativity. With the salary cap, the Niners may not have the same ability to be creative.

  19. AND, if SF would have said something PDT would have written that the 49ers had no right to tell him that he was going to lise that money because these are VOLUNTARY work outs.

    No win situation for the team.

  20. The bottom line is they tried to sneak it by the kid and now they are paying the price of their actions. This comment is just another PR move to try and convince the rest of the players they did not do what they clearly did. If it was all one big mistake, then pay the kid. If it was no mistake and they intend to hold the kid to the deal then quit trying to make it look better by lying about it.

    The team has the leverage here, but they don’t seem to like the results of applying the leverage. I don’t think they give a darn what we all think, but it’s likely the rumblings on the team are loud. My guess is they want to convince Brown to “wait” and they will pay him in the next deal. Because, yeah they’ll pay you if you get hurt.

  21. It sounds plausible enough to me. The team is aware that some players have incentive clauses based on workouts and other things but they do not specifically check on who has completed the required amount until training camp starts (on purpose). That removes the ethical dilemma of knowing but not saying anything (assuming they do not look until after the fact). It is totally on the player (not the agent) to show up to what he is supposed to. The agent no doubt told him when the contract was drawn up. He failed to be responsible enough to fulfill his commitments. Giving him that money or even splitting the difference sets a bad precedence for future issues with other players. He needs to man up, acknowledge his mistake and move on.

  22. Meh, the article seems to imply that Brown and Brown’s agent’s inability to understand the contract they negotiated is the fault of the team…..sorry, that’s just silly (and possibly racist if you are implying that Brown is not smart enough to handle his own business). It wouldn’t be shocking that the coaching staff didn’t spend time reading player contracts. The 9ers could have, and probably should have, given Brown a heads up, but the fault in this scenario lies solely with the player and his representation. The team will likely have to clean it up, but it is a matter of contract.

  23. There should have checks and balances by both parties to ensure this didn’t happen….but I can’t imagine the Niners won’t make good on the money, one way or another, whether they pay him flat out or work it into incentives during the season or build it into his next contract.

  24. “Apparently, none of you have ever heard of the legal principle that BOTH parties to a contract owe each other a duty to act in good faith and to deal fairly with one another.”


    Okay, Shakespeare, explain to us what the 9ers front office did that didn’t meet the terms of the contract. You are apparently as much of a genius as this guy is.

  25. Smart move by the Niners if they did or didn’t know. Why you might ask?
    Because now they can tell Brown (who was going to become a free agent after 2013) that they will make him whole and give him back the $2 million, as part of a team friendly extension he signs to remain with the team.
    DC Fangio likes bigger Corners,so they were probably not planning on competing for him in free agency at the price he would be demanding in the CB market. But he is a good Corner,so if he gives them a team friendly deal,he will get his $2 million back and can stay with the team. It’s up to him.
    The Niners will be drafting at least 2 Corners in next years draft no matter how this turns out .

  26. What league source with knowledge of the situation but no connection to it thinks the 49ers should NOT honor the contract and pay Brown, Dirty Pete?

  27. …And let’s remember that the fact is that Brown was working out very hard during the time they had the voluntary workouts at 49ers headquarters. He was just not working out in California but near his home instead,not knowing he would be losing $.
    His agent may have informed him several years ago when the contract was signed but that doesn’t mean it was not the agents responsibility to inform him of every important date that might come up for the duration of his contract.
    The agent was fired the day Brown found out about the incentive clause and should have been fired and should be sued by Brown to recover the $2 million. It was clearly malpractice by the agent and let’s hope he kept him malpractice insurance up to date !
    And remember that we don’t know that this clause was put in only to cover the year before free agency hit his contract. So the fact may be that he never had to show up at these voluntary workouts during all the other years of his contract .The Niners probably just put that into the final year of the contract to assure he would come to the workouts in his contract year instead of sitting out for fear of injury,etc.
    It was 100% the agents fault and only Browns fault for hiring such an inept agent in the first place ! I doubt that agent gets another player to sign with him,ever.

  28. This is the real world, not Utopia. You see, here in the real world you get fired for not living up to your end of the bargain, not given a bonus. Just ask whoever signs your check at NBC.

  29. Don’t blame it on the team, blame it on your agent. He’s suppose to know all the details but at the end, Tarrell signed the contract. It was the easiest $2 million to make but he and his agent blew it. Maybe Jay Z could’ve been a better agent.

  30. Well since he was working out on his own… that should count for something. maybe doing some make up OTA’s and watching film or something from the last session he could get part or all of the $$$ back.

    Maybe best to do contract ext.

    We all get busy in life, its a bummer that he didnt have that on the radar. And his stupid agent..

    Maybe the Teams can be the Agents and remind the players of what they have to do, and when to show up!

    My work puts up a schd of who is covering what.

  31. I decided not to show up for work on Monday. When I went back into work today, my boss said he was not going to pay me for Monday! That is completely unethical because no one from my work called me over the weekend to let me know I was not going to be paid if I did not show up for work!

    Said by no one ever.

  32. It’s not the 49ers fault that Brown hired a moron for his agent. You don’t show up to work, you don’t get paid.

  33. you think the other 31 teams are constantly reminding players to read their contracts. I don’t think so. T. Brown knows it was his and agents fault that’s why he fired his agent.

  34. A new long-term deal would be the best solution. It will show goodwill from the team, avoid any animosity and avoid setting a bad precedence of not honoring contract.

  35. How is it the niners fault? If I signed a contract then I will read it and make sure I fully participate even if its not required based on pay to do offseason work outs. I would do the work outs to improve my abilities and learn more. I do believe brown is a promising young DB and given culliver injury I would like the niners to re sign him and work some of that money back in the contract.

  36. Brown has accepted responsibility and the Niners do not have to give him the money. But at some point the team has to decide if it really wants its top corner bummed out From losing 2/3 of his pay.

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