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Pats, Fanene find middle ground on signing-bonus grievance


The best negotiated settlement to any financial dispute leaves both sides a little bit upset, and a little bit happy.

For the Patriots and former defensive lineman Jonathan Fanene, there’s reason for both.

According to Mike Reiss of, the Pats and Fanene resolved a grievance over Fanene’s 2012 signing bonus by letting him keep the $2.5 million he already has been paid -- and by cutting off the final installment of $1.85 million.

The Patriots claimed that Fanene concealed a knee injury when Fanene signed a contract last year that included a $3.85 million signing bonus. The team wanted to keep the $1.85 million and recover the full $2.5 million.

The decision to work things out comes at a time when the hay was in the barn on the formal arbitration process, which included testimony from coach Bill Belichick and others. Instead of waiting for the arbitrator to impose a ruling that one side would hate and the other would love, the two sides played it safe.

The move also gives the Patriots a $1.85 million cap credit. More money to not spend on improving Tom Brady’s corps of pass-catchers.

Another fight for unpaid signing bonus money is looming, with respect to former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. In March, the Pats inevitably will stiff Hernandez out of the final $3.25 million installment of his $12.5 million signing bonus.

Don’t be shocked if a similar outcome eventually occurs, with Hernandez keeping the money he has received and getting no more. Authorities are still investigating Hernandez for a double murder that predated the inking of the $40 million extension, which means that the Pats could make a persuasive argument that all of the money should be forfeited. Which will make it easier to settle the dispute with the Pats keeping the last chunk of it in their coffers.

More money to not spend on improving Tom Brady’s corps of pass-catchers.