Arizona Cardinals Linebacker Daryl Washington has been suspended for the 2014 season due to another violation of the substance abuse policy. The year long suspension should be a costly one for Washington.
He will lose out on his entire base salary in 2014, which was set at $2,900,000. Per the CBA any drug violation also requires that you forfeit your share of signing bonus money attributed to that season. For Washington that is another $456,765 which is the cap charge remaining from his $2.5 million signing bonus that was paid in 2012. Washington also had his contract tweaked in 2013 to move a $10 million option bonus from the end of the 2013 season to the start of the 2014 season. That should make his $2.5 million proration from the option bonus also subject to automatic forfeiture. Washington was suspended for 4 games last season and lost $564,706 in salary and forfeited another $216,177 in bonus money already paid.
For the Cardinals this news had to be tremendously disappointing. The Cardinals extended Washington in 2012 when he had two years remaining on his contract. They increased his salary over those two years by about $6.3 million with another $13 million coming his way in 2014, technically the first extension season of the contract. In that three year timeframe he will have missed 20 games due to drug suspensions and lost just under 1/3 of his salary to those suspensions.
Usually cap relief does not come right away in these situations. Once Washington can be officially moved to the Reserve/Suspended list, which usually occurs after final cutdowns, $2.9 million will be gained in cap room for the 2014 season. The forfeited money is applied as a credit to his contract in each of the remaining seasons, so no relief is usually seen until the year following the suspension. Perhaps that will be different in this case, but history would indicate that it is gradual relief that will be felt by the organization.
When Washington returns from suspension he will still have $12.67 million in potential salary that he can earn from 2015 through 2017 if his current contract is left untouched. But it is situations like this one which is why teams are often hesitant to extend players early and then open themselves up to these scenarios. For every Patrick Peterson that people say are underpaid and deserve raises there is a Daryl Washington whose off the field decisions have cost the Cardinals millions of dollars and their starting linebacker for the entire 2014 season.