Cardinals protected on bonus if Warner retires

While we await the press conference of Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner, there have been a few reports about the disposition of the $15M bonus Warner received last year upon his signing a two-year, $23M contract with the Cardinals. As per normal language in contracts, teams are usually legally entitled to pro rata portions of a signing bonus in the event of retirement prior to the fulfillment of the contract. Thus, if Warner retires tomorrow, the Cardinals have the legal right to collect $7.5M from Warner due to his skipping out on half of the contract for which he was paid a $15M bonus. Of course, there is the legal right and the practical aspect, and the Cardinals may have been hesitant to go after the bonus of the player that led them to the Super Bowl last year and to the Final Eight this year.

However, the Cardinals don't have to sue to get that $7.5M back. Contrary to reports, they are already protected on that money. As per the contract, $7.5M of that $15M bonus is scheduled to be paid out in equal installments throughout the 2010 season. And the language of the contract allows for the Cardinals to not make those installments if Warner is not on the roster in 2010, meaning he will not receive those weekly installments of that $7.5M. Thus, the Cardinals are protected.

Therefore, the contract that Warner signed for two years and $23M with a $15M bonus is really for one year and $11.5M if, in fact, Warner retires as expected tomorrow. Clearly, this scenario was discussed and contemplated upon signing and Warner, the ultimate team player, gave the Cardinals some protection. If he does indeed retire tomorrow, he was quite a bargain for the Cardinals.

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