Is Haynesworth Bonus Money Recoverable?

Is Haynesworth Bonus Money Recoverable?
December 7, 2010, 8:02 pm

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 3:00 PM

By Rich Tandler
Redskins Blogger
CSNwashington.com

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Cross posted to RealRedskins.com

The Redskins could be going after some big money from Albert Haynesworth.

The four-game suspension without pay will definitely cost Haynesworth some 847,000, the pro-rated portion (417th) of his 3.6 million 2010 salary, if the suspension stands. At this time, Haynesworth, his agent, and the NFLPA are deciding how they are going to react to the Redskins' action.

However, according to J. I. Halsell of SalaryCap101.com, a former Redskins cap manager, says that the team could go after much more money than that.

Halsell said that what could be at stake here is the 21 million check that Haynesworth cashed in April. The Redskins wanted to structure that bonus so that the entire amount would be charged to 2010, which is an uncapped year.

According to Halsell, the structure of the deal may put either the entire amount of the bonus, 21 million, or 56 of it (Haynesworth's contract had six years remaining on it going into 2010), 17.5 million, subject to forfeiture by Haynesworth.

But just because the money is subject to forfeiture doesn't mean that Haynesworth will be writing out a check to the Redskins any time soon, or ever. It is very difficult to do. Halsell cited the example of Michael Vick's contract with the Atlanta Falcons. Even though Vick was convicted of involvement in a dog fighting ring, including the killing of dogs, he did not have to pay any bonus money that he already had been paid.

That doesn't mean that it is impossible to recover money. According to CSNwashington.com's Ryan O'Halloran, Shanahan was successful in getting back bonus money paid to receiver Eddie Kennison and defensive tackle Daryl Gardener.

Those situations, however, took place under an old CBA and that agreement gave the teams much more leeway when it came to getting back bonus money. The current agreement is more restrictive in regards to that.

There is, however, a clause in the CBA that the Redskins could use to try to get Haynesworth to pay money back. According to Halsell, the CBA has language that says that the player can forfeit bonus if the "player willfully takes action that has effect of substantially undermining his ability to fully participate and contribute."

In his statement announcing the suspension, Shanahan said that Haynesworth "has consistently indicated to our defensive coaches that he refuses to play in our base defense or on first-down or second-down nickel situations.- He has also refused to follow the instructions of our coaches both during weekly practices and during actual games as well."
Is that willful action that would substantially undermine his ability to participate and contribute? It certainly seems that this is the case that the Redskins will try to make.

Every case is different and we will see how this one turns out. It won't really matter all that much to Redskins fans. Since there is no salary cap, the Redskins will not receive any kind of cap credit in future seasons. It just boils down to a matter of Dan Snyder's money. The 21 million down the drain may impact the team's ability to sign other free agents in the short term - yes, even Snyder's bank account is limited; but, given recent signings like that of Haynesworth, that may not be a bad thing at all.

The best guess right now is that the Redskins will try to recover the maximum as an opening proposition but they will be happy to get anything back.