Last week we learned that Ravens CB Asa Jackson has again been suspended for violating the NFL’s ban on performance enhancing drugs. While it appears that Jackson’s suspension arose from Jackson’s failure to follow procedures, as opposed to an intent to circumvent the rules, the bottom line is still the same – Jackson will be suspended for the first 8 games of the season.
This is Jackson’s second suspension within the past 8 months, as Jackson was first suspended for 4 games last December for violating the same league policy.
Given the harsh tone of Head Coach John Harbaugh’s comments following the suspension, it appears that there is no guarantee that Jackson will have a roster spot upon his return. During his suspension, Jackson will not be part of the team’s 53-man roster, will not be able to practice with the team and will not count against the team’s Salary Cap.
As has been reported, Jackson’s 8 game ban will cost him 8 weeks of pay, totaling $225,882 in salary.
In reality it will actually cost him even more.
While teams have always received a Salary Cap credit for those game checks lost by a player during a suspension, the 2011 CBA strengthened the team’s ability to recoup a portion of the bonus money already paid to a player when the player becomes “unavailable” due to a suspension. Under Article 4, Section 9 of the CBA, the forfeited amount is prorated over the length of the contract and a Salary Cap credit is issued for the years of the contract that have already been completed.
In fact, when he was suspended last December, Jackson became the first Ravens to ever be subjected to bonus forfeiture penalty (the team will likely also seek bonus forfeiture from Safety Christian Thompson, who has been suspended for the first 4 games of this coming season).
In Jackson’s case, the Ravens are entitled to receive a bonus forfeiture amount equal to 8 games (i.e. weekly checks). So, Jackson’s bonus of $144,560 is divided by 17 (weekly checks per year) and further divided by the 4 years of his contract. That amount is then multiplied by the 8 games for which he is suspended and then divided by the 4 years of his contract to reach the yearly prorata bonus forfeiture amount.
So, the Ravens are entitled to a total bonus forfeiture of $17,000. The Ravens will receive a $4,250 reduction of Jackson’s 2013 Cap number (and a similar reduction in 2014 and 2015) and $4,250 Cap credit in 2013 for what would have been the 2012 portion of the forfeited amount.
This amount will be added to the $2,125 credit and reductions that are already on the books for Jackson’s 2012 suspension.
While these amounts certainly aren’t very significant when compared to the overall Salary Cap of $123M, every little bit helps, and the team is clearly setting the precedent that being unavailable due to suspension will cost the player more than just the lost game checks.