Sometimes, NFL coaches use the media to deliver subtle messages to their players. There wasn’t much subtle what Shanahan had to say about what Fred Davis and his agent Drew Rosenhaus should expect when they get when they see the team’s contract offer free agent tight end.
“We’ll take that part of the evaluation process and we’ll see where Fred is going. I can’t get into a lot of detail, but any contract that anybody would sign somebody to knowing that, with one failed test, they could be gone just like that, they’re going to protect themselves in the contract. It will be based on performance and based on demonstrating what they know.”
Let’s parse this a little bit:
“We’ll see where Fred is going”—Fred had better not even look at a picture of a cannabis leaf if he want to make more than the minimum salary.
“ . . . they’re going to protect themselves in the contract.”—When a player signs a new contract, they want to get as much up-front money as possible. But if the player subsequently gets suspended, the CBA makes it almost impossible to recover any of that money. Shanahan is telling Davis to expect very little in the way of a signing bonus and that he will have to make his money from salary and roster and option bonuses. None of those are guaranteed.
“It will be based on performance”—This was shaping up to be a pretty good year for Davis. But his first three in the league were mostly forgettable save for one decent stretch in 2009 after Chris Cooley was injured. A contract-year push helps but it is not going to completely obscure the three previous seasons.
“and based on demonstrating what they know.”—They know that Davis decided to smoke pot while knowing that a failed test would lead to a suspension. He didn’t fail a drug test, he failed an IQ test. Since the Redskins and any other team negotiating a deal with him will have that knowledge, it will cost him some serious money.