POSTED 12:26 a.m. EST, March 6, 2006
ARRINGTON BUYS HIS FREEDOM
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington has ponied up more than $4 million in cash to the team in order to secure his freedom.
The move most likely enables the team to save money under the cap as a result of his departure. Previously, keeping or cutting Arrington would have resulted in an eight-figure cap hit, with the hit $100,000 or so higher if he had gotten cut.
The agreement ends a relationship that had grown rocky over the past two-plus years. Weeks after signing a big-money extension in December 2003, Arrington's agents claimed that the team had hoodwinked LaVar by removing from the final version of the paperwork a $6.5 million roster bonus due in July 2006. His agents, Carl and Kevin Poston, admitted that they didn't read the final version of the deal before signing it.
They're now dealing with a disciplinary action filed against them by the NFLPA.
The allegation of fraudulent conduct on the part of the team was odd in light of the fact that the Redskins already had promised in the deal to pay him a $6.5 million roster bonus in July 2006. The Postons essentially were claiming that a second roster bonus of that same magnitude should have been included, which would have pushed his cap number for this season toward a ridiculous $19 million, which translates to more than 20 percent of the team's entire spending limit under the current CBA.
A grievance was filed and Arrington ultimately agreed to a face-saving settlement that, as a practical matter, didn't give him much of anything in return. Dogged by a knee injury for much of 2004, he then was in the doghouse during the early stages of the 2005 season, possibly due to the lingering ill will engendered by the contract dispute. Though he ultimately redeemed himself on the field, Arrington drew the ire of coach Joe Gibbs by musing about his long-term status with the team as the 'Skins prepared to play the Eagles in a game that was crucial to Washington's playoff hopes.
Arrington suggested at one point during the 2005 season that he might retire from the game if the 'Skins don't want him back. By coughing up $4 million in money already paid, it's obvious that Arrington still wants to play somewhere.
Although the Redskins surely would have cut Arrington before his $6.5 million roster bonus came due, paying the money to get out now gives him a chance to hit the market in the early days of free agency, when the money tends to flow a little more freely. If, however, his agents had made the roster bonus due in March, Arrington would have gotten out without having to pay a dime.
At a time when tampering is more rampant than ever in the NFL, our guess is that Arrington already has an agreement in principle with a new team, and that the deal more than compensates him for the $4 million that he paid back to the Redskins. With the union already up the Postons' butts, the last thing they need to be doing is advising him to pay the $4 million back without having a damn good idea what he'd get somewhere else.
Our own money is on the Vikings and the Browns as his next destination, with the Steelers as an outside possibility.