Earlier this afternoon, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson confirmed that running back Trent Richardson had indeed been suspended prior to the AFC Championship game. It's a two game suspension, which means that if he is back next season Richardson will have to serve the second game of the suspension. The suspension was for personal reasons, Grigson said, and then declined to go further into detail than that.
There are a lot of details that we still don't know regarding this situation - particularly what exactly it was that Richardson was suspended for. But there is a very interesting question that has risen out of this situation, and it's this: could the Colts be off the hook for Richardson' 2015 guaranteed salary now?
Trent Richardson's contract is fully guaranteed next season even if he's not with the Colts. So regardless of whether he's on the team next year or whether they cut him, the Colts have to pay him $3.18 million. But does Richardson's suspension change that? Does that get the Colts off the hook for it? It's certainly a possibility, though again, we don't know the specific details of his contract.
If you recall a few years ago, another former Alabama player drafted in the first round, Rolando McClain, was suspended by the Raiders for conduct detrimental to the team. Because of that, the Raiders were off the hook for the guaranteed money that they would have owed him - the suspension voided the guaranteed money. Does Richardson's contract have similar language? And was his suspension for conduct detrimental? These are questions that we don't currently have the answer to, but it raises an interesting possibility.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik tweeted the following this afternoon:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The suspension of Trent Richardson will allow the Colts to walk away from the 3.18 guar for 2015. His contract has strong voiding language.</p>— Mark Dominik (@MarkdominikESPN) <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkdominikESPN/status/558725852851372032">January 23, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap also wondered the same thing:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Right now Richardson is owed $3.18M so if the guarantees void when then the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/colts?src=hash">#colts</a> creatively got themselves out of a bad deal</p>— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) <a href="https://twitter.com/Jason_OTC/status/558689796235997186">January 23, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The bottom line is that we don't know the specific language in Trent Richardson's contract, nor the details behind the suspension. So at this point we really don't know the answer to this question, but it's an interesting possibility that perhaps the Colts have gotten themselves off the hook for Richardson's guaranteed money next year. Either way, it would come as an absolute shock if the running back is a member of the Colts' next season, whether they're paying him the $3.18 million in guaranteed money or not.