Via TSF, I discover that apparently retiring from the game with years left on the contract is now something some owners would rather see as verboten if they had their way. The Buccaneers and the Broncos are now filing a grievance to recover over $7 million worth of QB Jake Plummer’s signing bonus, because he has not reported to camp. Each team has its motivation — if Plummer eventually reports, the Broncos seventh-round pick they got from the Bucs next year turns into a fourth-rounder, and Tampa Bay looks less the fool for trading for a man who retired before the trade was made in the first place (still an idiotic move on the Bucs’ part months later.) The other reason for the Broncos’ involvement after trading away the rights is that if Plummer does not report, the trade may be kiboshed by an arbitrator.
As far as I was aware, if you declare retirement and file papers, I thought it meant you were able to keep the money on the guaranteed end. It’s not as if Plummer is holding out — he has no interest in playing. Try telling that to Bucs management, as GM Bruce Allen said in the ESPN piece., “A player [under contract] can’t just unilaterally retire.”
That’s a new one. This isn’t quite the Steve Foley situation out in San Diego, which is semi-understandable (but still odd), because I’m guessing Charger management is trying to recoup after cutting Foley due to legal troubles, despite his involuntary retirement after being shot three times in the leg. The Plummer situation seems extremely petty; with both teams trying to force his hand to be a useful trade chip which they never should have considered one to begin with. The lousy job Gene Upshaw does as head of the players’ union just keeps showing up in new and baffling ways. Donald Fehr and Billy Hunter wouldn’t even let it get to this, because a clause letting a team get back bonus money would be laughed at by those unions.