ESPN’s Rich Cimini was the first to mention that the Jets intended to release Brady Quinn for financial purposes and the Jets did indeed release Quinn today as expected. I discussed this a bit on last nights podcast but here is the reason why Quinn and some others (Matthew Mulligan in New England may have been another) will be released this week.
First of all the release is not really a release. It is simply a trick designed to outsmart the CBA and clauses that were designed to protect veteran football players. Veteran players who are on the active roster as of 4PM today will have their full Paragraph 5 salary guaranteed for the season. That means if the team was to cut the player, even after just one week, they would be responsible for the entire salary assuming the player invokes his rights to termination pay (if you want to read more about termination pay just follow this link). If you sign a player after week 1 you are only responsible for 25% of the balance of his years salary, a big financial difference.
What the Jets did was give Quinn a full week of practice with the Jets to get up to speed on the playbook and familiar with the offense. He still gets paid for the week so its not as if the release costs him a penny. Its essentially the same as being de-activated. Now when he returns only 25% of his contract will be guaranteed. For the team the only concern would be if the player signed with another club in the interim. Considering Quinn was passed over by 31 other teams that would be unlikely unless the thought was that the New England Patriots were willing to use a roster spot on Quinn and guarantee his salary in return for “inside information” on their opponent for the following Thursday game.
Moves like this are common for NFL teams. The fact is teams want roster flexibility. The players who are under consideration for non-injury related inactive designations each week are often those most in danger of losing a job. You never want a player on a guaranteed deal to be hogging one of those spots because, for the most part, the players are interchangeable. They move back and forth from the Practice Squad or unemployment all the time. If you have a guaranteed deal on the books those players are not going to be capable of being moved on and off the roster. You are stuck with the salary. So it is in a team’s best interest to get those veterans off the team for week 1 and make their contracts just as flexible as the non-veteran contracts.