Saturday, October 6, 2007
Henry could lose bonus money, salary if suspended
By Len Pasquarelli
Denver Broncos tailback Travis Henry, who is fighting a one-year ban for a repeat violation of the NFL substance abuse policy, would likely suffer significant financial losses if he is eventually suspended by the league.
Henry, 28, signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Broncos in March, only days after the Tennessee Titans released him to avoid paying an $8 million roster bonus that he was due early in the month. The contract with the Broncos includes language that stipulates Henry must repay a $6 million signing bonus, or whatever portion of it he has been paid, if he is suspended for drugs at any time during the term of the deal.
To date, Henry has received $2 million of the signing bonus. Another $1 million is due in November, and the final $3 million installment is due to be paid in March 2008.
In an affidavit filed as part of his lawsuit to try to block the NFL's testing of the so-called "B-sample" of his urine specimen, Henry stated: "If I fail this test, I will be suspended for one year from my employment, and will be obliged to repay all signing bonuses paid to date."
The Broncos would probably withhold future installments of the signing bonus if Henry is suspended. If his case is not resolved quickly and Denver is forced to make payments on the rest of the signing bonus, the Broncos would then seek to recover that money if Henry does not prevail in court and is eventually banned for a year.
But the potential forfeiture of the singing bonus is just part of the financial ramifications that could impact Henry if he is suspended.
According to salary documents obtained by ESPN.com, Henry's contract also calls for a $6 million option bonus due in the spring of 2009. The Broncos almost certainly would not pay that bonus if he is suspended.
The option bonus is guaranteed for "injury only," meaning that, if the Broncos failed to exercise it, the only way they would be liable for the $6 million is if Henry had suffered a career-ending injury.
So far this season, in addition to the $2 million in signing bonus money, Henry has earned $135,000 of his $595,000 base salary for 2007 and collected a $100,000 offseason workout bonus. The Broncos can not recover any of the base salary or workout bonus money. And Henry will make an additional $35,000 for every week that he is on the roster, which also would not be subject to recovery if he earns it.
Because he is a vested veteran, Henry's base salary for 2007 is guaranteed. But if Henry is suspended without pay, the sanction overrides the guarantee.
His base salaries for future seasons, which obviously would be jeopardized by suspension, are $730,000 for 2008, $1.375 million in 2009, $2.4 million in 2010 and $3.9 million in 2011. There are offseason workout bonuses of $100,000 for each of those seasons. And in the final two seasons of the contract, there are roster bonuses of $500,000 each. All of that money could be at risk.
Loss of income could also affect Henry's ability to meet certain legal responsibilities. In a child-support action in Georgia earlier this year, it was revealed that Henry has fathered nine children by nine different women. Courts in several jurisdictions have ordered him to make child-support payments for seven of the children.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.