The San Francisco 49ers made roster cuts over the last week, and one such move involved placing Desmond Bishop on injured reserve this past Monday. He had a hand injury that required surgery, and cost him much of the preseason. Yesterday, Matt Barrows reported the team came to an injury settlement with Bishop, making him an unrestricted free agent.
An injury settlement involves paying a player the number of game checks that are equivalent to what he would otherwise earn with the team had he placed or remained on injured reserve. That amount of money is then applied to the salary cap, as opposed to the full salary. The team does not disclose those numbers, but the reports allow us to infer some of the details. Here is what Barrows had to say on the news:
#49ers have reached an injury settlement with LB Desmond Bishop, who injured his hand in preseason. Other teams can sign Bishop ...— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) September 5, 2015
... immediately. #49ers can bring him back after Week 9. Bishop will be healthy enough to play in Week 1.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) September 5, 2015
When an NFL team agrees to an injury settlement with a player, the player is free to sign anywhere immediately. However, if the player and team wanted to reunite, the team cannot sign the player until the extent of the settlement PLUS six weeks.
Since Barrows says the 49ers can bring Bishop back after Week 9, that would indicate this is a three week settlement check. Bishop was due to make $730,000 this season, but if he had been placed on injured reserve, he would have received a split salary of $438,000, according to Jason Hurley. A split contract is when a player agrees to a given base salary if he is on the 53-man roster, and a lower salary if he is on injured reserve.
Based on that split salary, a three-week settlement would total $77,294 against the salary cap. If it is based on his full salary, the settlement would be $128,823. I'm not positive on this, but you get the general idea of things. Barrows and Bishop's agent both said he is healthy enough to play in Week 1. If he signs elsewhere and plays, I am not sure if there are offsets for the injury settlement. I'm looking into that with Jason.
All of this does have me wondering if Kendall Hunter could eventually be in line for an injury settlement. Tomsula stammered when discussing Hunter's injury. That could mean the team is just stashing Hunter for the year, and he cannot come out and say that. It is also possible he aggravated the knee in some way.
On the other hand, if Hunter thinks his knee is good to go, he might want to get an injury settlement and try his luck on the open market. He is a free agent after this season, after signing a one-year contract extension last year following his ACL tear. The 49ers drafted Mike Davis and signed Jarryd Hayne, so when Reggie Bush potentially departs as a free agent next spring, there still might not be a huge opportunity for Hunter. If he is healthy enough to go elsewhere sooner rather than later this year, it might be in his best career interest to see what opportunities are out there.