With the NFL now reportedly set to investigate the January domestic dispute that Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was reportedly involved in, several are starting to wonder if the team could go after any of his earnings. The quick answer to those kind of questions is, yes, but probably only if Brown is ultimately suspended under the league’s personal conduct policy.
So, what is Brown at risk of losing should the league ultimately warrant a personal conduct policy suspension? I reached out to former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports for some clarification on the topic and he obliged me with what he knows about the matter from a CBA perspective.
First, Corry informed me that assuming Brown got the right language in the contract restructure that he did last March, the prorated amounts of that $12.96 million signing bonus would not be amounts the Steelers could go after should the wide receiver ultimately be suspended under the leagues personal conduct policy.
“[Drew] Rosenhaus should have limited forfeiture from restructure to just 2018 since the money never would have been at risk in a later year if kept in its original form,” Corry explained to me.
However, Corry does believe that the Steelers should be able to go after the 2019 prorated portion of the original $19 million signing bonus that Brown received when he signed his contract extension in February of 2017. The prorated amount of that signing bonus for 2019 is $3.8 million and thus, for example, should Brown wind up being suspended for four games, he would have to repay 4/17ths of that amount, or roughly, $894,118.
Additionally, and obviously, Brown would also need to forfeit 1/17th of the $12.625 million base salary he’s scheduled to earn in 2019 for every game that he’s suspended for. Once again, should Brown be suspended for four games, he would forfeit nearly $2.971 million in salary and the Steelers would of course receive credit for that against their salary cap.
Corry also pointed out to me that Brown’s $2.5 million roster bonus he’s scheduled to receive a few days after the start of the new league year in March would also be subject to a 1/17th forfeiture as well, should the wide receiver wind up being suspended. In short, a four-game suspension would result in him having to repay the Steelers roughly $588,235 of that roster bonus.
While several are now calling for the Steelers to part ways with Brown, Corry says that in going that route, the team would not be able to recoup any bonus money from the wide receiver as the transaction would happen prior to any suspension being handed down.
As always, make sure you are following Corry on Twitter at @CorryJoel if not already doing so and once again, it’s important to point out that Brown has not been charged with any sort of crime related to the January domestic dispute he was allegedly involved in and that the NFL is just now starting to investigate the matter further.