New England Patriots

New England Patriots

  • Damar Hamlin’s horrifying injury on Monday night can and likely will impact the long-term future of the NFL in a number of ways. One thing that has been put under the microscope in the fallout has been how teams and players negotiate contracts.

    Currently, the NFL is the only one of the major for North American sports leagues which does not fully guarantee the majority of its contracts. Devices like split contracts, play-time bonuses, and roster bonuses protect teams financially if players miss time due to injuries, while at the same time making it harder for players to sit out when they’re hurt.

    Hamlin’s contract – like all rookie contracts – contained a split that limited his payout after being placed on IR according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. In Hamlin’s case, the NFL and NFLPA have come to an agreement in which Hamlin will get his full salary.

    It’s worth noting though that this kind of agreement is a rare occurrence. The heavy majority of players who get hurt end up losing significant portions of their salary. Following Hamlin’s injury, could that policy change? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked that very question by Chris Gasper Sunday morning on Patriots pregame.

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  • “All those issues evolved particularly through collective bargaining agreements,” Goodell said. “So those are things that we’ll continue to look at as time goes on. But those are issues that we solve with the Players’ Association.”

    In a sense, Goodell isn’t wrong. This is something that really can’t be addressed until the next CBA negotiations. However, it’s clear it’s a topic he doesn’t seem eager to get into right now. Expect it to be a hot button topic next time the two sides get to the negotiating table.

    Hamlin’s situation may be the biggest example the players cite when it comes to needing a change in the way contracts are formatted, but it’s not the only one. In New England, the team is expected to have to fight a grievance from punter Jake Bailey, who was suspended last week. If Bailey’s suspension stands it would void the existing remaining guaranteed money in his contract. Then, the Patriots could release him, costing him significant money.

    Goodell also spoke about the league’s handling of the immediate impact of Hamlin’s injury, as well as the restructured playoff format. You can hear the full interview above.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at

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