Friday, September 4, 2009

Injury Settlements for Waived Players

The deadline to cut down to 53-man Active rosters is upon us; meaning clubs will have to waive or terminate 22 players. For those players who are vested veterans, upon being cut they instantly become free agents. For non-vested players, they must first pass through waivers, where they can be claimed by another team, before becoming a free agent. But what about those players who may have gotten hurt in their final preseason game and are subsequently waived by their club?

In this case, the club will waive the player with the designation "Waived-Injured." This designation means that if the injured player clears waivers, then that player will revert to the club's Reserve-Injured list. So in the case of Redskins quarterback Colt Brennan, who tweaked his hamstring in the club's preseason game against Jacksonville, if the club were to waive Brennan (and I'm not saying that Brennan's going to get waived), then, upon the certification of the athletic training staff, the club would waive Brennan injured. Assuming he passes through waivers, he would then revert to & remain on the club's IR list until he's given a clean bill of health.

In an effort to cut ties with the player and to allow him to pursue opportunities once he's healthy, the club and agent will then initiate Injury Settlement negotiations. So in the case of Brennan, if he's diagnosed with a 4-week hamstring injury, then the club and agent will work towards a settlement that compensates Brennan for those 4 weeks; once a settlement is agreed upon, then the club can waive Brennan with the designation "Waived-Injury Settlement," which then severs ties between the player and club. Brennan can then pursue opportunities with another club.

Sometimes a player who is compensated for, say, a 4-week injury by virtue of his injury settlement, may sign a contract with another team within those 4 weeks because he (surprise, surprise) got healthier faster than expected. To manage this scenario, a lot of clubs will put "off-set" language in their settlements that articulate that the club will no longer be responsible for the amount of money due to him while he's receiving payments from his new club as a result of his new deal. This prevents the player from "double-dipping," meaning receiving payments from his old team and new team simultaneously.

With these settlements available to players who are on the bubble, there's a certain up-tick in the number of players who report to the training room the day after a club's final preseason game. There are definitely legitimate injuries, but one would be naive to think that some "injuries" are in the "milk-this-thing-as-long-as-I-can" vain.

It's definitely an interesting dynamic to the weekend of final roster cut-downs.

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