Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

C.J. Moore apparently will keep his $1.4 million signing bonus

Mike Florio and Peter King explain how Detroit can use the draft to strengthen other positions, since Jared Goff proved himself last season, and explore how far the Lions could go next season.

Just weeks before being suspended for at least a year under the gambling policy and then cut by the Lions, safety C.J. Moore re-signed with the team. He received a $1.4 million signing bonus.

Just days before being suspended for at least a year and cut by the Lions, the Lions paid Moore the first half of the amount, $700,000.

PFT has obtained Moore’s contract. It required payment of $700,000 within 30 days of contract signing, which was March 20. The other $700,000 is due to be paid on or before September 8, 2023.

The question now becomes whether he gets the second half, and whether he gets to keep the first half.

The signing bonus addendum to Moore’s contract indicates that he “shall be subject to forfeiture of Salary to the maximum extent permitted under Article 4, Section 9 of the governing Collective Bargaining Agreement (the ‘CBA’).” Under Article 4, Section 9 a “forfeitable breach” happens in four possible ways.

“Any player who (i) willfully fails to report, practice or play with the result that the player’s ability to fully participate and contribute to the team is substantially undermined (for example, without limitation, holding out or leaving the squad absent a showing of extreme personal hardship); or (ii) is unavailable to the team due to conduct by him that results in his incarceration; or (iii) is unavailable to the team due to a nonfootball injury that resulted from a material breach of Paragraph 3 of his NFL Player Contract; or (iv) voluntarily retires (collectively, any “Forfeitable Breach”) may be required to forfeit signing bonus, roster bonus, option bonus and/or reporting bonus, and no other Salary, for each League Year in which a Forfeitable Breach occurs (collectively, ‘Forfeitable Salary Allocations’), as set forth below.”

Look at the list. Moore’s conduct falls in none of those categories. There’s no forfeitable breach for a suspension under the gambling policy, or under any policy. Elsewhere in Article 4, Section 9, the CBA addresses the procedure for forfeitures arising from suspensions under the substance-abuse policy and the PED policy. The gambling policy isn’t mentioned.

As we interpret the CBA and Moore’s contract, he gets the money regardless of whether he’d been cut. A suspension for violating the gambling policy doesn’t count as a forfeiture for the purposes of signing-bonus money. He gets the money, whether he was cut or whether he wasn’t cut.

So Moore retains the $700,000 he already received, and he gets the $700,000 he’s due to be paid in September. He would have gotten it if the Lions hadn’t cut him. He earned it when he signed the contract. His suspension for a gambling-policy violation that occurred before he signed the contract doesn’t change it.

Then there’s the fact that the Lions cut him. If failing to report due to a suspension were one of the categories of forfeitable breach, the Lions prevented that from happening by releasing him. They should have, if the suspension triggered a forfeiture of signing bonus, placed him on the reserve/suspended list for 2023.

The decision to cut Moore makes it even more clear that he keeps the $700,000 he’s been paid, and he still gets the $700,000 he’s due to receive in September.

That said, the suspension wipes out all salary guarantees contained in the deal. The contract had $1.1 million fully guaranteed for 2023, and $500,000 fully guaranteed for 2024. The suspension voids those guarantees, and the Lions avoid ever paying that money by terminating the contract.

To summarize, the Lions will lose $1.4 million on the Moore contract, but they have now avoided paying him another $1.6 million he was guaranteed to make in 2023 and 2024. Given the recent gambling suspensions, it’s possible that future editions of the labor deal will be tweaked to include gambling suspensions within the category of forfeitable breaches.