Borland will voluntarily return signing bonus

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The 49ers faced a dilemma in the wake of linebacker Chris Borland’s retirement.  Borland has resolved it for them.

Borland told Face the Nation on Sunday that he’ll return the $463,077 in unearned signing bonus money that he received in 2014, as part of a four-year contract.  The amount to be returned exceeds by more than $40,000 the $420,000 base salary Borland was paid a year ago.

It was the right thing for Borland to do — and it’s a bit surprising it took nearly a week for that conclusion to be reached.  In earlier interviews on ESPN and with CBS This Morning, the topic never came up, even though makes his decision to retire at age 24 even more courageous, because he now has to pay $463,077 for the privilege of moving on.

If Borland had wanted to retain the bonus, he could have simply half-assed it through offseason workouts and training camp and gotten cut.  So he should be applauded for taking the course that more clearly articulated his concerns, but that ended up being far more costly.

88 responses to “Borland will voluntarily return signing bonus

  1. It’s really half of that after taxes, so he most likely will get some kind of a tax break in 2015 as he’ll be collecting unemployment.

  2. It was the right thing for Borland to do — and it’s a bit surprising it took nearly a week for that conclusion to be reached.

    I disagree, I thinks its surprising he returned it. Nothing about his character, just more about the way the industry is today on both sides.

  3. This is not a stupid or greedy young man. He knows after careful consideration and research football wasn’t for him. He was not in it for the money and he knows he didn’t earn it. I don’t think this was a hard decision for him. His intelligence will take him far in his post football life.

  4. mariorat says: Mar 22, 2015 12:49 PM

    It’s really half of that after taxes, so he most likely will get some kind of a tax break in 2015 as he’ll be collecting unemployment.

    ===================================

    More likely that he goes to work at his old mans financial firm. He’ll do Ok for himself I reckon. That likely played into his decision.

  5. He’ll be back.

    Ricky Williams retired. Came back.
    Rolando McClain retired. Came back.
    Brett Favre retired. Came back.

    Once he realizes that a History degree from Wisconsin doesn’t really pay the bills, Borland will be back.

  6. Good for Borland. I’m sorry to see the Niners lose him, but at least they get some of the money back.

    As an aside, he got his full salary for a year, plus his signing bonus… So, when you calculate his net after returning the un-earned portion of his bonus, he still walks away with a lot of money.

  7. Class act, yes….AND brave.

    How many 24-year-olds would give up $400K +…? — but he’s a smart, ambitious gentleman who will get an M.S. or Ph.D to succeed in whatever he choose.

  8. What is so courageous about quitting at age 24?

    HOF middle linebacker/center Chuck Bednarik, who took and received many hits while playing real football just passed away at 89.

    Does Borland expect to outlive Methuselah?

  9. If he was paid the money last year he would have to pay taxes on it. If he gives it back it’s a gift and he must pay taxes on that. He should not have given it back.

  10. There’s plenty to do with a history degree; thousands upon thousands of people who can’t or don’t play football get jobs with history degrees every year. Quick poll: do you have a history degree AND a job?

  11. Long-time Niner fans will recall some other players that retired early… John Frank, Glen Coffee.

    I wonder if other teams have a similar rate of early retirement?

  12. I’d like t0 think that the issue never came up simply because he wasn’t asked about it and never thought about keeping the money. I’m an optimist like that.

  13. To those of you knocking the History Degree, keep in mind that the value of a Liberal Arts education should not be reduced to dollars and cents. Borland made an informed, thoughtful decision. He weighed the substantial long-term risks of playing linebacker in the NFL against the (likely) very short-term rewards, and he chose to walk away win his health intact.

    I’d say that his Liberal Arts education has already paid off. A fat signing bonus can’t help you when you develop CTE

  14. It was what he should do, given what he expressed. Good for him. As for how long he expects to live, no one ever really consciously knows that for certain. It’s about quality of his life while still alive, vs. longevity.

  15. The 49ers can now respectfully decline and come out looking good in the press.

    @drcap

    Glen Coffee is what I’d considered an odd retirement. He played only 1 year behind Gore. He was never going to be the feature back and he didn’t tear it up. left to joined the military I believe.

    John Frank played 4 years and eventually left to go to become a physician. I think he did alright for himself.

  16. The player’s union should fight this. If owners do not have to guarantee contracts the players should have no responsibility to fulfill them.
    The fact that signing bonuses are prorated over the life of a contract doesn’t change the fact of what they actually are – a one-off for signing your name on a piece of paper. It’s a bonus for signing the contract that is paid at the time and not future salary.

  17. Unemoyment? How do you figure???? He voluntarily quit his job. Therefore he gave up his ability to file for unemployment. You must be some kind of genius that is more intelligent than the system or something…

  18. He made about $1,037,000 in 2014, including signing bonus plus salary. In Federal and state income taxes the government relieved him of close to 50% of that, thus leaving him with about $518,500. And he has to pay back $463,000 to the 49’ers. That means if he spent more than $55,000 in the past year he will probably need a loan just to repay the unearned portion of the bonus. My opinion doesn’t mean squat but I think Borland is crazy to abandon his NFL career at age 24.

  19. He knew he had to pay it back the 49ers were waiting for the story to die down. He lost his interest in playing football, it’s as simple as that.

  20. The kid is doing the interview circuit. Does anyone address that he signed a four year contract and quit on the team, his players, and the fans. General managers build a team based on what they have. Football is the ultimate team sport and now the 49ers have a void in its roster because of the quitter. He should of honored his contract and retired after the fact.

  21. Saying it was a dilemma for the 49ers is ridiculous. What dilemma? They’re a business and they were getting that money one way or the other. It probably wasn’t as voluntary as you think.

  22. Might want to check the definition of “courageous”- this is not a comment on his decision, it’s his right to quit for whatever reason he wants, but I can’t think of ANY instance where quitting would be courageous. Quitting by definition is a selfish act which is contrary to anything that would be considered courageous.

  23. thelastpieceofcheese says:
    Mar 22, 2015 1:11 PM
    What is so courageous about quitting at age 24?

    HOF middle linebacker/center Chuck Bednarik, who took and received many hits while playing real football just passed away at 89.

    Does Borland expect to outlive Methuselah?
    ——————————————-
    I suspect he expects his quality of life to be somewhat better than Bednarik’s. He made a decision that he feels was best for him. In a society that seems to value fame and money above almost all it IS courageous to look at $400,000+ and say thanks but no thanks. (By the way we’re really talking about multi millions he’s turning down because barring career threatening injury there’s no doubt in my mine his next contract would have came with a multimillion dollar signing bonus)

    So yes it is courageous and even if he doesn’t live to 89 I suspect his quality of life in his later years will be better than Bednarik.

    PS,

    This is an excerpt from Chuck’s daughter according to lehighvalleylive.com:

    Chuck Bednarik’s family is upset the Philadelphia Eagles are saying he died after a brief illness, his daughter said.

    Charlene Thomas, his eldest daughter, said her father suffered from dementia for many years.

    “He died from dementia from football-related head injuries,” Thomas said in a phone interview Saturday. “It was not brief.”

  24. “and it’s a bit surprising it took nearly a week for that conclusion to be reached. ”

    ??

    Your words here are too harsh

    the 49ers are lucky, not that $400k is a dial mover for any NFL team

  25. @kd75 and @commentor

    Wondering what kind of degrees you have, since you seem to want to denigrate a Liberal Arts degree and a classy guy, who made a good a decision for himself that obviously doesn’t please you.

    I have a history degree and I do ok. Pretty sure I made more than he’s paying back last year alone.

    Purpose of my comment isn’t to brag about my income. It’s to remind trolls that while it may be funny (to you) to cast aspersions at someone else, I’m guessing there’s a counterpoint (or five) that puts you in a worse light.

    How bout we focus on a young man’s unusually mature decision making.

  26. For those that don’t understand taxes, the Federal Gov’t and I’m sure California allows ‘income averaging’ for any 3 year period. It also has provisions for exactly this type of income/loss.

    He’ll end up paying on what he kept, not what he gives back.

    js

  27. It’s for him and the league. Some people just aren’t mentally tough enough to play football. It’s good that he realized that.

  28. Class guy, TERRIBLE Business man.
    Im sure the NFLPA and his fellow members will be pissed at him for not allowing the Union to do its job and handle this for him. There is a process you must follow when you are a Union Member.

  29. Great move for 49ers …. Make your organization look MORE CLASSLESS than it already IS… SMH – no wonder your guys are leaving in droves …no body wants to be a part of your terrine heartless organization.. You’ll lose many more before the year is up ! Cheers to the dumpster fire in Santa Clara

  30. More than 1 million people die in a car accident every year. That’s not even counting those that survive but suffer serious injury.

    Borland probably shouldn’t drive either due to the ill effects driving a car might or might not occur…

  31. Dude walked from millions. That’s courageous. He could hang out. Get paid, 1/2 ass it. He didn’t. He walked.

    As for the signing bonus, you people saying he should return it and it shouldn’t have taken a week….. do you say the same thing when owners and GM’s tear up contracts and cut players who are “under contract”? Do you demand that ownership pay what THEY agreed to pay?

    The hypocrisy is laughable.

  32. isithockeyseasonyet says: Mar 22, 2015 1:32 PM

    Good for him, that’s a class move. Now a return class move would be the 49ers to not accept it back, to an nfl franchise, that’s chump change
    ———————————————————————–

    Not this franchise. They could take that signing bonus money and build the kids soccer fields they promised to build then reneged on because the new stadium made the kids fields useless on game days. No, the greedy owner will pocket the money. After all why do you think he went back on his word in the first place?

  33. Glenn Coffee retired and wanted to be a preacher or pastor. After seeing players like Earl Campbell struggle with disabilities you can’t blame someone from walking away.

  34. People aren’t asking the question on those general news show interviews because most regular people probably don’t know about prorated signing bonuses and non-guaranteed contracts. Sure, we wonder about it. But how many people watching Face the Nation are going to even know what they are talking about when they bring it up? Plus, it’s probably just easier to let people assume all NFL players get paid millions and walking away is the only way to lose salaries going forward and only for the future. This would be like is Josh Hamilton goes on a show about his drug addiction and Katie Couric asks him about his decline in UZR and cost per bWAR of his contract.

  35. Attention grabber, he couldn’t do it in silence? Just wanted the media spotlight on him so he builds more of a resume.

    While I can appreciate what he did, he needs to just move on instead of basking in the limelight. Respect = lost

  36. He made about $1,037,000 in 2014, including signing bonus plus salary. In Federal and state income taxes the government relieved him of close to 50% of that, thus leaving him with about $518,500. And he has to pay back $463,000 to the 49’ers. That means if he spent more than $55,000 in the past year he will probably need a loan just to repay the unearned portion of the bonus. My opinion doesn’t mean squat but I think Borland is crazy to abandon his NFL career at age 24.

    ________________________________

    Your analysis is incorrect. First, if he hasn’t done his 2014 tax returns, he will be able to get an amended W2 from the Niners that will not include the portion of his signing bonus that he paid back. IF he has already done his 2014 taxes, he will be able to file an amended return reflecting a reduction in income of the returned bonus. So, his taxable income will be about $575,000. He will pay about $15,000 in FICA tax, about $180,000 federal income tax and about $50,000 in state income taxes. So, after taxes, his income will be about $330,000. Add to that the fact that he just received a performance based bonus from the NFL which I’m guessing was somewhere in the $150,000 to $200,000 range (100k to 125k after tax), and he will have received after tax income from his one year in the league of about $430,000 to $450,000. That’s not a bad little nest egg for a 24 year old with a college degree. I’m guessing that puts him ahead of about 99.99% of his peers.

  37. Db4life, you are not kidding. I was on a flight with Earl Campbell and was heartbroken to see him try and walk down the isle.

    He’s broken, very broken.

  38. Funny, the same people who thought it was a cash grab are now complaining that it took him a week to give the money back.

    They’ll continue to move the goalposts to rationalize their own bitterness towards Borland rather than admit it’s their own sense of childish entitlement that makes them feel Borland owes them anything.

    I’m not going to call the move courageous because, frankly, the term gets overused for sport. But it does take guts to hand back six figures once it’s in your hands- much tougher than turning it down in the first place. And for that, I give him props.

  39. “Great move for 49ers …. Make your organization look MORE CLASSLESS than it already IS… SMH – no wonder your guys are leaving in droves …no body wants to be a part of your terrine heartless organization.. You’ll lose many more before the year is up ! Cheers to the dumpster fire in Santa Clara”
    ———————————————————————
    Cheers to the biggest choke job in Super Bowl history!!

  40. scoob766

    Didn’t your mother ever teach you that if you do not have something nice to say, do not say anything at all. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, you do not have to be insulting in sharing it with others. Moreover, you claim the kid is an attention grabber, but aren’t you as well for posting you incredible words of wisdom here? Perhaps you should practice the silence you advocate.

  41. He should of honored his contract and retired after the fact.
    ———————
    dbranch65

    If you had a history degree from Wisconsin, you never would HAVE written that sentence.

  42. People commenting how brave this guy is and how much Thay respect him stop embarrassing your selfs you all sound so foolish. He quit his job …. He signed a contract … Broke the contract…and now gives back the money that’s not his anymore. If that’s not the way he wanted to earn a living that’s fine but misleading the 49ers into blowing a 3rd round pick on you is shameful. Only the son of a rich man would do something like this because he knows he will always be taken care of … Every one else works as hard as Thay can because Thay where never handed any thing. He should have never declared himself for the draft … What a pampered coward.

  43. 5to46hawkfan says:
    Mar 22, 2015 3:43 PM
    Harrisbarton… Sorry your right… Since 49ers did win SB 47 because they didn’t cho…. Oh, wait…. Lol
    ——————————————————————————
    The Niners fell short after a furious comeback. Heartbreaking? Sure.
    The Seahawks had a ten point lead late in the game with “the best defense in the history of the NFL” unable to protect it. They then turned the ball over when their coaches couldn’t make the obvious call as Belichik let the clock run down.
    LOL all you want. As I wrote, “biggest choke in SB history”. No disputing that.

  44. 4 years of college and it took him until he hit the nfl where the big boys play to see the light?..curious and curiouser

  45. So glad that Borland voluntarily made this decision. Maybe now PFT and its main figure can stop obsessing over it!

  46. I never had a son, but if I had I couldn’t have been prouder if he turned out to be like Borland. These critics need to get a grip.

  47. Hell, he didn’t earn it. He supposed to give it back. It’s a contract. It doesn’t make him smart or good or not greedy or anything else.

    It’s a contract.

  48. NFL contracts aren’t real contracts(they are not garaunteed) so why is a player held to a standard that NFL teams are not. Borland may have put a dagger into the heart of the NFL, in my opinion that fear is why some of you are so angry with him.

  49. At kd75:

    Let’s be honest…Ricky came back because he was broke and needed to repay or work out a deal as the Dolphins were suing him for some of that $8,000,000.00 they paid but he didn’t earn. LOL

  50. Millions of women develop brain diseases when they get into their 80s, and none of them ever played in the NFL.

  51. A signing bonus is given to encourage a person to sign the contract.
    The fact that the NFL lets a signing bonus be spread over the life of the contract should have no bearing on players.
    The fact that players that get cut keep the bonus and players that retire are obligated to return the bonus just shows how bad the NFLPA is to its players.
    They all should be fired.

  52. Posted by Mike Florio on March 22, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT

    …even though makes his decision to retire at age 24 even more courageous…
    ============================

    He quit at age 24.

  53. I’d sure like to see or hear him doing color commentary on Badger football broadcasts!

    On Wisconsin!

    Varsity!

  54. I wish him well. Now can we talk about something more interesting like Tim Tebow?

  55. Obviously, this move sets the stage for a lawsuit seeking compensation for brain damage caused by concussions while in the league. No one in their right mind would willfully return that money, right? This will be an easy one for any jury to decide.

  56. stand up act. Now let’s see the 9’ers tell him to keep it or donate the money to older NFL vets and then move on. Can we get back to Tebow talk as the Philly fan suggested.

    AS for beer on his fridge. Would rather have my brain and be at Walmart than be babbling and drooling at 50 with 10 mill in the bank.

  57. Why is this guy so courageous and a hero? Just to be clear when you join the U.S. Military you are not allowed to decide the job is dangerous and walk away from it. You are required to fulfill your obligation. He let down the organization, coaches and his teammates. Why do we say he retired? The definition of retire is “Leave one’s job and cease to work, typically upon reaching the normal age for leaving employment.” He did not retire he quit. He quit with a free college degree and $600,000 (give or take a couple $100,000. Yeah, he is a hero.

  58. He didn’t stop working on Ebola patients in Africa or leave cancer research with a cure almost found. He left football so he would not be dribbling on himself at age 50 or take the risk that it could happen. Why all this negative BS from people who think he violated a core principle of the Judaeo/Christian work ethic.

    The NFL is a kids game played for adult’s entertainment and nothing more. The US civilization would and will continue if we never see another NFL game as long as we live although I would be sorry about that. Eventually the Romans gave up on the gladiator deal and that did not bring down their empire.

  59. He’s courageous because he probably knew he’d face a lot of criticism, hate, perhaps hate mail from couch jocks who think he should have continued to run out there every Sunday and bang his head into other guy’s heads, even though his heart wasn’t in it. On more than one occasion, I’ve heard some of the greatest players say, when you’re heart isn’t n football, that’s when guys get hurt … when they’re more worried about where the hit is coming from than following the track of the ball. It’s funny how as a society, we forget how important our brains are. All we talk about is how to be tough, reckless, ‘man-up’, take one for the team, suck it up… we hardly ever think about protecting the one thing that makes us human. He is courageous. It’s an unpopulary position in the culture of football, and he stood up and admitted that he didn’t want to do it anymore. Hat’s off.

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