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August 26, 2007

Civil Asset Forfeiture: Falcons Want $22 Million Back From Michael Vick

Do a man's crime, pay a man's fine:

The Falcons will try to recoup $22 million already paid to suspended quarterback Michael Vick, a person with knowledge of the team's plans told the Journal-Constitution on Saturday.

Vick was suspended indefinitely by the NFL on Friday after he pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges in Virginia. That cleared the way for the Falcons to pursue money paid to Vick in signing bonus money.

Vick has received roughly $40 million in guaranteed bonuses — and even more in base salary — but teams are only allowed to try to recoup money paid in signing bonuses, per the collective bargaining agreement with the players' union.

To collect the money, Vick must remain on the Falcons' roster. Therefore the team will not release Vick until the matter is resolved, the person familiar with the situation said.

The Falcons are expected to cut ties with Vick, once their most popular player, once the signing bonus matter is finalized.

If Atlanta receives payment from Vick, the money would be applied to the salary cap of the upcoming season. For example, should Atlanta receive all of the $22 million it seeks before the 2008 NFL calendar year, it would be credited toward the 2008 salary cap.

That would provide a huge windfall of cap space for the Falcons to use in pursuing free agent players.

As for this season, the Falcons will not have to pay Vick his $6 million base salary. However, he will count roughly $8.5 million against their salary cap. Though Vick will remain on the roster, he will be placed on a suspended list, which will allow the Falcons to add a player in Vick's place.

Can anyone tell me-- do these actions usually work? Does the NFLPA stop teams from recouping money like this? Or does the NFLPA have no say?

Answers! Abe--

Everything I've seen and read treats it as a forgone conclusion. The 22m was advanced for future performance, if he was cut/released the dough is his to keep. If they keep him, and he does not play due to suspension, incarceration, retirement etc he owes the team the money. Similarly to Strahan's "holdout" with the Giants. If he retires the team could force him to return some portion of the contract's bonus money. They had the option with Tiki as well, and did not exercise. Same deal unfolding with Jake the Snake. I believe the team is looking to recapture 7m.

From retired NFL staff guy Bruce:

I just retired (staff) from an NFL team. The players union has no bone in that fight - it's all contractual. They'll get it back. Like Abe said, signing bonuses are based on expected performance.

Nice choice of logo, Bruce.

digg this
posted by Ace at 05:01 PM

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