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Another tragic death strikes the NFL

Adams’ rookie deal should leave his family secure, plus more notes. Andrew Brandt

Print This January 18, 2010, 10:07 AM EST

News arrived Sunday that the NFL had lost another player, its second in several weeks. After the tragic death last month of the Bengals’ Chris Henry, word arrived that Gaines Adams, the defensive end who was recently traded from the Buccaneers to the Bears, had passed away, reportedly due to cardiac arrest resulting from an enlarged heart. We at the National Football Post send our condolences to Gaines’ family and to those he touched at the Bucs and Bears. So young, so sad.

The hope here is that Adams’ family is financially secure, as they certainly should be from his contract. As the fourth pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Adams received one of the contracts that have become so much discussed in the rookie compensation debate. The contract was heavily front-loaded, as the Bucs had assumed the bulk of its value in the first two years.

At the time of his trade, I wrote in an earlier column in October about the contract, but it’s worth restating here:

Adams had just finished the third year of one of those rookie contracts that draw so much attention as financial anomalies – and something that needs to be addressed in the next CBA. The Bucs paid him $16 million before trading him to the Bears:

Signing bonus: $13 million
2007 roster bonus: $2.1 million
2007 salary: $285,000
2008 salary: $370,000
2009 salary: $265,000

Adams was paid the balance of his 2009 salary ($635,000) by the Bears, who, at the time of the trade, also assumed the remaining salaries of $1.08M in 2010, $1.1M in 2011, and $1.15M in 2012. The salaries for 2010 and 2011 are guaranteed for injury only. The common language requires a football-injury that prevents the player from playing the following season. Whether a cardiac arrest away from the football field will trigger the guarantee may be more of a moral and sentimental obligation for the Bears than a legal one. We’ll see.

We can only hope for Adams’ family that the $16M he received from the Bucs has not been wasted.

A couple other notes from the weekend:

• Speaking of the importance of a player's financial security, the signing of Deuce McAllister by the Saints for the divisional playoff game was a warm gesture, although playoff money is probably going to satisfy many financial debts. I’m sure Deuce appreciates the tribute but would have preferred to actually have been signed while the real paychecks were in play and the team was playing during the 17 weeks of the season. Of course, McAllister didn’t really retire from the Saints; rather, the Saints retired him from football prior to the season. Last week, it was reported that Nissan had sued McAllister after his dealership in Jackson, Miss., closed and defaulted on loans, seeking more than $1.5 million. McAllister has counter sued, claiming Nissan’s financing division failed to help his struggling dealership succeed. This is one of dozens of examples around the NFL of players getting involved in businesses without the proper background or, more important, counsel and trusted advisers to succeed. McAllister was out of football until this week, so here's hoping he finds his way through this mess. His playoff checks will help.

• I thought the bye teams were going to have an easy time this weekend, especially the Saints, who were the big winners in the emotionally draining game between the Packers and Cardinals six days prior to the winner walking into the Superdome. I understand in the past that there have been many upsets on divisional weekend, but this year set up differently. And can we lose the chatter about going into the playoffs hot or cold, playing starters or not, etc. All that is extraneous. Congrats to the Jets for breaking through the byes.

• I'm happy for Brett Favre, as most people are. Having been with him in the NFC Championship two years ago in the freezing cold at Lambeau Field, I think he'll play better in this game than he did in that one (even though the Packers had the ball in overtime with a chance to win). He seems very calm with this team. The Packers are definitely comfortable with the choice they made, and Aaron Rodgers is certainly the real deal, but Brett is not showing the decline or risk tolerance that many at the Packers offices felt was coming in Minnesota.

• Didn't LaDainian Tomlinson look lonely on the Chargers’ bench yesterday?

Happy Martin Luther King Day to all.

Follow me on Twitter: adbrandt

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