Sunday, August 26, 2012
Jonathan Fanene's release could be a precedent-setter for the NFL.
August, 26, 2012
Field Yates for ESPN.com
Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. If the Patriots do attempt to recover some or all of Jonathan Fanene's $3.85 million signing bonus, it will be watched closely by teams, agents and players across the NFL as a precedent-setting situation. Given that the NFL just instituted the category of "failure to disclose physical condition" -- which is what the Patriots designated Fanene when releasing him -- this is new ground.
2. One might say the Fanene situation highlights some of the main risk for teams in free agency, investing in players with whom they don't have a deep background (as compared to one they draft and develop before the player receives big up-front money). When the Patriots courted Fanene in free agency after missing out on Red Bryant, my understanding is that things moved along quickly even before the team officially met with him (Fanene was in Samoa at the time a financial agreement was struck). It makes one wonder if the Patriots' scouting fundamentals broke down before making their financial commitment; they might have liked Fanene as a player, but not dotted all their I's and crossed all their T's in terms of how he'd fit in their program. That's something Patriots coach Bill Belichick always stresses -- the program fit. So while the team seems to want Fanene to be held accountable for not fully disclosing all medical information, there is an element of accountability on the team side as well; they still thought enough of the player and person to give him a $3.85 million signing bonus.