As of Saturday, the Browns and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. agreed to reduce the team’s eventual liability for termination pay from $7.25 million to $4.25 million by shifting $3 million of his remaining pay into a roster bonus, due this week. The two sides then pivoted to another path that got to the same place.
Beckham agreed to waive $3 million in termination pay, capping at $4.25 million the money he’ll get from Cleveland. Article 30, Section 3(f) specifically permits this approach. “An otherwise qualified player will not be entitled to collect Termination Pay under this Article if he waives or releases his claim in a written settlement agreement, executed by the player, his Certified Contract Representative (if any), the Management Council and the NFLPA,” the provision explains.
That’s a new facet of the labor deal, added in March 2020. Many executives with the league’s various teams didn’t even know about it before the Browns used it. As one executive put it, the OBJ $3 million waiver may have opened “Pandora’s box.”
As another executive explained it, here’s what quite possibly will happen. Every August, vested veterans will be asked to waive all or part of their termination pay, in exchange for an agreement that they won’t be released before Week One. This removes the risk of keeping a player with four or more years of service into the regular season and owing him the full amount of his salary if he’s later released.
Players can refuse to accept such provisions. But then they’ll risk being released. If they want to stay, they’ll consider agreeing to waive termination pay.
Some teams won’t simply make that request of players who otherwise would be released before Week One. Some teams will take that position even as to players who otherwise would be safe.
However it plays out in the future, the Browns have helped plenty of teams become aware of a right that they possess, a right that was added to the most recent CBA and that, to date, many didn’t even realize existed.