Still no word on whether 49ers will pursue Borland’s bonus

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One of the lingering questions regarding the decision of linebacker Chris Borland to retire is one of the only questions that Borland has not been asked in any of his TV interviews:  Does the team expect him to reimburse the franchise for 3/4ths of his signing bonus?

Last year, Borland received $617,436 up front on a four-year deal.  It reflects $154,359 per year in advance compensation for each year of the deal.

Technically, Borland earned only 25 percent of that money.  The 49ers have the right to ask him to pay back the remaining $463,077.

The Lions didn’t hesitate to do that 16 years ago, when Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders abruptly retired.  The Buccaneers once recovered $3.5 million from quarterback Jake Plummer after trading for Plummer, who retired in lieu of reporting — and who had never been paid a penny by Tampa Bay.

The 49ers still aren’t saying whether they’ll seek $463,077 from Borland, and Borland has not yet addressed in interviews on ESPN and CBS This Morning whether he plans to pay the money back.

It’s a little odd that the topic hasn’t come up.  With the networks understandably seizing on the unusual and courageous decision of a pro football player to stop playing pro football after only one season, the notion that he also had to pay $463,077 for the privilege of not playing makes Borland’s story even more compelling.

Just as it was Borland’s call to end his career after only one season, it’s also the team’s call to request repayment for money given to Borland under the assumption that he’d play for at least four.  For the same reason Borland shouldn’t be criticized for choosing not to play, the 49ers shouldn’t be criticized for choosing to do that which the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Borland’s signed contract give them the absolute right to do.

26 responses to “Still no word on whether 49ers will pursue Borland’s bonus

  1. While it’s nothing to a nfl team, you can’t argue the fact that the 9ers deserve that money back. Any other job would demand that money back but then again it wouldn’t be the PR disaster

  2. Might not be able to but i’d love to see Borland turn down a 3 yr 18 million dollar deal right now

  3. dtp15 says:
    Mar 19, 2015 6:56 PM
    I dont think the niners want to deal with that PR disaster. Its pennies to an NFL franchise anyway…
    Better PR move-recover the money the guy did not earn and return it to the taxpayers who paid for their stadium.

  4. Absolutely I’d pursue his bonus, he quit. I don’t care what his reason was. If anyone else quit their team they’d go after their bonus without question, or if anyone else in the world who’s been offered a signing bonus at any other job pending they stay with the company, they’d be paying that back as well. If SF won’t go after their own money because they are afraid, that’s pretty sad. He gets to keep the 1/4 of the bonus he rightfully earned.

  5. The fact that no reporter has asked the question is ridiculous. Or maybe he has told the reporters they can’t ask him that question on camera. Either way its absurd.

  6. He knew entering the league he was going to play just one year and he purposely signed a front-heavy dealing thinking he was going to sneak off. They should fight for every cent.

  7. Not recovering the signing bonus sets a bad precedent.

    Giants didn’t seek to recover the bonuses of Chad Jones or David Wilson, but they had career ending injuries.

  8. They’ll come to an agreement. As it sits, one side stands to look bad in an either/or situation. 49ers will be trashed if they go for the whole amount, Borland hasn’t earned the full bonus. Probably he keeps most, if not all. He certainly outperformed his annual wage last season.

  9. If Borland had half the class as some people are attributing to him, the Niners wouldn’t have to pursue the bonus money. He’d right them a check today.

    I don’t understand why some people would think there would be some kind of PR disaster if SF tried to get their money back. It would seem to me that if Borland tried to keep money he didn’t actually earn, it would be stealing.

  10. A lot of ILBs made a lot more money than Borland last year after turning in far less productive seasons.

    Also, there’s precedent here. The Niners never sought to recover signing bonus money from Glen Coffee or Marcus Lattimore. They have no reason to go after the money anyway. With the unexpected retirement of Patrick Willis the team is pretty well under the cap.

    Why are we even talking about this?

  11. dtp15 says:
    Mar 19, 2015 6:56 PM
    I dont think the niners want to deal with that PR disaster. Its pennies to an NFL franchise anyway…


    PR disaster for requesting back what is rightfully their money? Chris Borland made a reasonable a decisions for himself. There’s nothing wrong with him choosing to retire. Any reasonable person would respect any other person’s choice of work.

    But that has nothing to do with Borland’s prepaid bonus for years 2-4 of his contract. The standard NFL contract is unambiguously clear when bonuses that are paid up front are tied to fulfilling the full term of the contract, and that any years that the player chooses not to play require the player to repay the corresponding portion of the bonus.

    $450,000 isn’t peanuts to an NFL team. Moreover, it comes out of the team’s salary cap. So why should the 49ers let Borland keep the money for NOT working for them when they could give that money to someone who does work for them? Under the terms of the CBA, at least 89% of that money would have to be paid out to other players if the 49ers reclaim it.

    It looks like most commenters are fine with the 49ers reclaiming the money.

  12. I wish I could quit my job, keep hundreds of thousands of dollars that I didn’t earn, and have people call me courageous for doing it.

  13. The Yorks are looking for a way to do this. They are just waiting for the news cycle to calm down.

  14. I think a signing bonus is a signing bonus. The payment is due in full once the contract is signed. Otherwise, it sounds like circumventing the salary cap, by spreading the salary over four years, and pretending like it’s a signing bonus.

  15. It’s a signing bonus, due when the contract is signed. Technically, that means he already earned it by signing. The pro-ration is a Salary Cap finagle, not a pay-by-year scale for the bonus.

  16. Who cares about this…The Santa Clara team has bigger problems than seeking some portion of unearned bonus money…They have 5 months to put togeather a competitive team if they don’t then you will see a PR disaster…

  17. The signing bonus is the player’s payoff consolation for when teams negate contracts, not for when players negate contracts.

    49ers should take the money back because Borlan was unwilling to earn the bonus payout.

  18. I agree, pennies to the team but I believe it’s bad to NOT pursue it. If he’d suffered some freak non-football injury maybe not but the guy quit, after a year. Players constantly force payment of money, Ray Rice, Hernandez, etc.

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