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Economic crisis prompts some teams to push back bonus payments

Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss how the coronavirus influenced the way players decided to vote on the new CBA.

Free agency is proceeding, with teams negotiating tentative deals to be signed when the league year officially begins on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. But world events are creating one specific complication: Some owners are getting shorter on cash.

Per a league source, multiple owners have instructed front-office staff to defer signing bonuses as long as possible. Although signing bonuses are earned when the contracts are signed, teams usually pay the signing bonuses in installments, with some of it paid not long after the contract is executed and other amounts pushed down the road. Currently, some teams are trying to make that road even longer.

While the money has been earned and will be paid, the player loses access to the money and the ability to spend it or to earn interest on it. (Given the current climate, the inability to invest it may not be a bad thing.)

Some teams, like the Raiders, are paying no signing bonuses at all. They did the same thing last year, but tackle Trent Brown received a cap-chewing $10 million roster bonus not long after signing. This year, it’s believed that the Raiders won’t be making any significant lump-sum payments at or about the time contracts are signed.