As everyone should know, Bryant was placed on the non-football injury (NFI) in late July after he had torn his pectoral a week before training camp started. Schefter says that Bryant was working out at a gym in New York, not the Browns’ training facility in Berea.
When players are placed on the NFI list, teams don’t have to pay players’ salaries — they could pay none of it, some of it, or all of it. In fact, we saw this a few years ago in the 2013 season with the Browns. That year, WR Davone Bess went off-the-rails for the final two weeks of the season, so the team only paid him 31.68% of his salary ($50,000 per week instead of $157.843 per week). In 2013, they also claimed WR Charles Johnson off waivers from the Packers not knowing he had a torn ACL. They paid him 0.25% of his salary the rest of the year ($58.83 per week instead of $23,823 per week).
If you recall, in 2013, Bryant came down with an irregular heart beat and was placed on the NFI list for the final four weeks of the season. The team paid Bryant 75% of his salary ($88,235 per week instead of $117,647 per week).
Now, Cleveland is facing a decision for the future of the franchise, and are trying to make the best business decision while still maintaining a perceived level of good faith. Bryant is under contract through 2017, but given his age and his $7 million salary next year, it was already under question whether he’d remain with the club. Coming off of a torn pectoral and that salary? It seems very unlikely the Browns would keep him. If he’s not in the cards for the future, why not just save as much money as possible and not pay him any of his $6 million for 2016? It’s well within their right, but they could burn a bridge with Bryant’s new agent, Drew Rosenhaus, who represents several Browns players.
Cabot’s article notes that it’s rare for teams to pay a player’s full salary on the NFL list, but most teams do pay something. “How much?” is the question. Cabot says that Cleveland hasn’t said they won’t pay Bryant “X” amount yet, but they know it’s coming so Rosenhaus is trying to negotiate the best terms they possibly can. Cabot also says that Cleveland could end up just releasing Bryant outright if negotiations go awry.