In the wake of the announcement that the Seattle Seahawks have released defensive lineman Cliff Avril, there were several questions in the comments section regarding the potential payment the team would have to make if Avril is unable to be medically cleared by another team. The questions surround the details of Article 45, Section 2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides injury protection for all NFL players who are contracted past the present season.
The earnings of a player are protected for the season in which a player suffers a serious injury, as teams are forbidden under the CBA from releasing any player who is injured. However, what happens when a player suffers a serious injury that prevents them from playing the season following the injury? This is exactly what Article 45 covers, which is designed to protect players who are in Avril’s situation. Here is what Article 45 Section 2 looks like.
The highlighted portion shows why the seemingly random amount of $1.15M is the amount to which Avril would be entitled under this portion of the CBA. However, if you read on further below, the following portion is found.
The benefit will be paid to the player in equal weekly installments commencing no later than the date of the first regular season game, which benefit payments will cease if the player signs a contract for that season with another Club.
So, basically, if Avril doesn’t pass a physical and sign with another club, and assuming his agent files the proper paperwork, then Avril will be effectively be paid just like he was on the roster. The only difference would be that instead of his seventeen weekly checks being calculated off a $7M salary, they will be based on a salary of $1.15M.
Now, keep in mind, this only applies to players who have contracts that run beyond the season in which they are injured. So, in contrast a player on a one year contract would not qualify for Article 45 benefits in the following season since their contract was already expired. So, say for example the dislocated shoulder Oday Aboushi suffered in Week 11 against the Atlanta Falcons required complete reconstructive surgery to repair, he would not be covered under this portion of the CBA. (Please note, that this is simply a hypothetical example in this case and I have no indication that Aboushi’s shoulder injury was severe enough to require any kind of surgical repair, much less a complete reconstruction. I’m simply using it because he was on a one year contract and suffered a season ending injury.)
Now, just because I’m sure one of our inquiring commenters will ask, there is further injury protection that extends beyond one season past injury. Under Article 45, Section 4 players can qualify for Extended Injury Protection, which pays a smaller portion of the player’s salary for the second season after an injury. However, in Avril’s case this would not apply since he was not under contract to the team for 2019. In addition, for players like Kam Chancellor for whom the injury protections in their contract are greater than the base injury protections of Article 45, only the specific injury protection amounts in their contracts apply.
If anyone has any further specific questions regarding this, drop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.