If Anthony Davis unretires, he may not get signing bonus back

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The sudden decision of 49ers tackle Anthony Davis to retire and his intention both to pay back $4.66 million in signing bonus money and to return to the game in a year or two raises several questions that the NFL and the NFL Players Association have never before confronted.

As written, the CBA allows the 49ers to collect the signing bonus money and then to welcome Davis back at a later date — without owing him the signing bonus money he returned.

The 49ers eventually will place Davis on the reserve/retired list, holding his rights indefinitely. If/when he returns to the game, the 49ers will be entitled to keep his rights under the terms of his prior contract, with his compensation for 2015 becoming his compensation in whatever year he returns. But the labor deal says nothing about a player who returns to the game getting back the signing bonus money he previously refunded, which surely would prompt the 49ers and the NFL’s management council to argue that the signing bonus money is gone forever.

The NFLPA could respond by arguing that the 49ers can’t have it both ways, and that their options should be to refund to Davis the refunded signing bonus money or to cut him.

Either way, the CBA doesn’t address this specific situation. Which means that the NFL and the NFLPA can negotiate a compromise, or the two sides can battle it out through arbitration.

Some league insiders are suggesting that Davis could have found another way to not play football, without retiring. If Davis has lingering issues due to a concussion suffered last year that kept him from mustering the will to play, he could have taken the position that he wants to play football but, due to his brain injury from 2014, he can’t. This would have forced the 49ers either to cut him or to place him on the non-football illness list or injured reserve.

Alternatively, Davis could have simply given a substandard effort. He eventually would have been benched and, in time, released. (He did the honorable thing by simply retiring, but in theory he could have opted to simply quit trying in the hopes of getting fired — and getting to keep the money.)

Whatever the 49ers opted to do with Davis, an approach other than retirement could have allowed him to keep the $4.66 million he previously had received. If/when he returns to football, he could have a very hard time getting that money back.

33 responses to “If Anthony Davis unretires, he may not get signing bonus back

  1. A good compromise would probably be to cut the signing bonus in half and turn the rest into a per game roster bonus. That would allow the 49ers to do the good faith thing, while allowing them some protection.

  2. I really like this guy. While everyone else is playing through things in the worst interest of their health, this kid was able to look at it from a different perspective.

    I wonder how many CTE type things could have been reduced by taking some time away from the game to recover?

  3. Players get killed for taking more money or holding out for more. This kid decides to step away and live life on his own terms and all your worried about his how much money he may lose?

    I respect this kid for his decision at this point. His health and well being are more important than this game or however much money he makes. Double standards are the norm these days. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

  4. There is also the simple fact that the 49ers will want him to come back and play for them. What is completely missing from this article is the simple logic that if they want there stud lineman back they will have to make him an offer he can’t refuse. That will likely include getting part, or all, of this signing bonus back.

  5. If he retires and then un-retires, I don’t think he deserves to get the signing bonus money back. He’s abandoning his team and the organization. If he’s really still injured from the concussion, he should be on the IR. If he just wants and protracted vacation, he and he alone gets to pay the price.

  6. There is also the simple fact that the 49ers will want him to come back and play for them. What is completely missing from this article is the simple logic that if they want there stud lineman back they will have to make him an offer he can’t refuse. That will likely include getting part, or all, of this signing bonus back.

    __________________________________

    He’s under contract they don’t need to make a sweet offer

  7. Put the signing bonus money in escrow until a final determination is made about how and when his career contunues. If does go back to the 49’ers, he gets the money back. If he stays retired, the 49’ers keep the unearned signjng bonus.

  8. Maybe the NFL and the NFLPA needs to look at establishing another player classification that equates to a leave of absence.

  9. What a sad world we live in when it is considered “honorable” to not take what you haven’t earned.

  10. I wouldn’t take him back if I were the 49ers, because here’s what I believe: he’s actually hurt and prone to the mental injuries and will be a waste of money OR he doesn’t want to play for that plummeting organization OR he doesn’t love the game enough to put up with the wear and tear. If every football player was quick to retirement from injuries there wouldn’t be football. That’s all I’m saying.

  11. If the 49ers become relevant and get a quarterback in a year or two, he will come back. If the team decides to stick with the status quo, he will not be back. Pretty simple really. The 49ers are going nowhere with Colin “future of the NFL ” Kaepernick at the quarterback position.

  12. 49ers are not a TEAM. They are a collection of criminals and quitters.
    An embarrassment to the league and the laughingstock of fans everywhere.
    This is the softest group of football players EVER.

    They cant overtake Pete’s crew up in the NW, and they never will. They traded away their best QB and hitched their wagon to a loser.

    Meanwhile…….Andy Reid has assembled a dynasty team that will dominate the league for a decade. He snookered the 49ers into giving away Alex Smith , who will bust out this year and lead a top 5 offense, and enjoy a top 5 defense on his way to leading the Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory.

  13. Don’t hire this guy as your financial planner. How about play this game for a few years and really retire (don’t work another day for the rest of your life). You’ll be applying at a Burger joint before you know it and thinking I should have stayed!

  14. I respect the fact he is looking out for #1, everyone deserves to have that opportunity. just most can’t afford to walk away when they feel they should.

    My issue with this comes from the timing of it.
    -he should have made the decision before the draft
    -if he had lingering effects after training then please say that.

    I had some serious doubts about the front office and coaching carousel this offseason, they must show that it was not the single worst self inflicted offseason in the history of the 9ers, or I will have no other option than to trade in my faithful card, due to the fact that the 9ers have betrayed thier fan base.

    I can’t support a organization that does not try to put the best team on the field, they owe that to us as cash spending fans.

  15. In an era where players are profoundly selfish and out to squeeze clubs for every cent ( most times to the detriment of team and their ability to field a competitive team) I commend Davis. He did the honorable thing.
    No doubt that bumbling idiot D Smith tried to get him to stick it to the niners but Davis chose the high road.

  16. And BTW he didn’t “retire”. He QUIT playing football.
    HUGE difference,.
    You don’t “retire” after a handful of years. You QUIT to do something else.

  17. Guessing bad agent advice after Davis decided he needs a break. Retire, return signing bonus, come back, get new bonus and let me get another cut…

  18. If he comes back he should have the signing bonus refunded to him. Since he will have to play under his current contract if he comes back, it should include the entirety of the contract, which means the signing bonus. If the 49ers don’t want to honor the signing bonus in the contract then he should be able to walk away from the contract as well.

  19. Dumbest statement of all time:
    “And BTW he didn’t “retire”. He QUIT playing football.
    HUGE difference,.
    You don’t “retire” after a handful of years. You QUIT to do something else.”

    Show us where it says you have to play X number of years to retire? This is not a 9-5 job.

  20. He has already made more than most of us will in our lifetime…you people talking burger joints need new material.

    As a Seahawks fan it astounds me how far this team has fallen since Sherman picked kap off in the nfcc. That was just two years ago, the niners were a powerhouse to be feared.

    Crazy

  21. restorativejusticeprogram says:
    Jun 6, 2015 2:35 PM
    The NFLPA has been run by incompetents for years because black players will only vote for a black leader and now they are paying for those mistakes.

    Hmm, sounds familiar.

    dude, you are right. it sounds like a racist rearing his ugly head… sadly too common in america even today. and i expect you aren’t even ashamed.

    and as to the backhanded slam at obama, if george bush and his friends hadn’t taken us to the border of ecomomic meltdown and mired us in two wars, the black man couldn’t have assembled enough states to win the electoral college.

  22. Please figure this out, journalists. I’m really interested in other people’s money.

  23. I am sure he paid a substantial portion of that bonus money to taxes. Does anyone know if he entitled to get that back now? Davis did the honorable thing but by doing so it would not be right if he did not somehow recover what he paid the IRS and State

  24. He might only be 25, but he’s made 81 career starts at Right Tackle in football’s most physical division.

    Gotta love the armchair work ethic trolls. Try to disguise the racism and jealously a little better next time.Thanks for playing, though…

  25. I had some serious doubts about the front office and coaching carousel this offseason, they must show that it was not the single worst self inflicted offseason in the history of the 9ers, or I will have no other option than to trade in my faithful card, due to the fact that the 9ers have betrayed thier fan base.

    I can’t support a organization that does not try to put the best team on the field, they owe that to us as cash spending fans.
    ————————-

    ie…”I am a Bandwagon Niner fan and if they don’t win, I will jump on another winning team’s Bandwagon…..

    Santa Clara “fans” are hilarious…..

    Best Regards

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