TUESDAY, 9:29am: Richardson’s suspension for conduct detrimental to the team does indeed void the guarantee on his $3MM+ base salary for 2015, reports Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). With the reasoning for the suspension still not clear, I’d expect Richardson’s camp and the NFLPA to fight it.
FRIDAY, 5:44pm: Much was made of Trent Richardson not traveling with the team to Foxborough to play the Patriots last weekend. Now, general manager Ryan Grigson confirms that Richardson was suspended for two games heading into that weekend, reports Mike Chappell of RTV6 in Indianapolis (via Twitter). The reason for the suspension is unclear at the moment.
Richardson was a healthy scratch in the divisional round against the Broncos, and was reportedly going to miss the AFC Championship due to a family emergency, although he was not expected to be active anyway.
The suspension in itself is not the most interesting part of the story. Richardson’s time with the Colts has been a tremendous disappointment, and Grigson and the Colts would not commit to having him on the roster for 2015 as it was, saying he would be “lumped into that conversation with guys this offseason,” according to Mike Wells of ESPN.com.
Richardson is owed just north of $3.18MM for 2015 according to OverTheCap.com, and because his rookie contract was fully guaranteed, it has been assumed that the Colts would have to pay him that money whether he was on the team or not.
That may not be the case though, as this suspension could change Richardson’s status going into the offseason. Jason Fitzgerald surmised that if Richardson was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, that may void the guaranteed money left on the deal (via Twitter).
This suggestion comes with precedent, as Fitzgerald notes that when the Raiders suspended Rolando McClain in 2012, that allowed the team to get out from the guaranteed money in his contract (via Twitter). Like the Raiders, the Colts may have gotten creative in order to get out from under a contract that they don’t want on their books going forward (via Twitter).
Former Buccaneers general manager and current ESPN analyst Mark Dominik confirms that Richardson’s contract has strong voiding language, and that the team will be able to move on from following this suspension (via Twitter).
While this news may inspire celebrations from Colts fans about being free from a player who has been tough to watch over the last year and a half, it needs to be stated that no matter what the language in the contract is, Richardson will likely fight for that money and the NFLPA would fight on his behalf.
Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, Richardson fans can take solace in the way McClain turned his career around with the Cowboys — while this is a terrible situation for Richardson, it doesn’t necessarily signify the end of his career after only three seasons.