The Colts and Luck have already reached an agreement that the team will not go after any of that money, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
NFL players who receive a signing bonus and then choose to retire while still under contract can be forced to pay back a prorated portion of that signing bonus. In Luck’s case, that prorated portion of his signing bonus is $12.8 million. Luck’s contract also called for him to receive a $12 million roster bonus this year, and players can also be required to pay back roster bonuses if they retire after receiving the bonus but before playing.
Some star players who retired while under contract, including Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson, have been forced to pay back their money. The Colts have chosen not to.
Why not? It could be that Luck and Colts owner Jim Irsay reached an agreement not to make it messy, because Luck did have leverage: If he had wanted to, he could have simply told the team’s medical staff that he wanted to play but the leg injury that has kept him out of the preseason was too painful for him to play on, and that he needed to go on injured reserve, which would have allowed him to collect his full salary this year without playing. Luck did the honorable thing, and so the Colts aren’t going to fight him.