Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Colts are allowed to ask Luck to pay back any portion of his signing bonus that’s part of their future salary cap. When Luck signed his latest five-year extension , the deal included a $32 million signing bonus that was prorated out to a cap hit of $6.4 million per year over the five year duration of the contract.
Since Luck won’t be on the field for the final two years that his bonus was pro-rated, that means the Colts are allowed to ask for that money back. Basically, this means if the Colts do want the money that Luck would have to write them a check for $12.8 million.
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Although it’s unclear what the Colts will do, this same situation is what led to a falling out between the Lions and Calvin Johnson . The Lions made Megatron pay back the pro-rated portion of his signing bonus, which upset the former Pro Bowl receiver.
Besides the $12.8 million in bonus money, Luck might have also lost out on up to $500 million in future earnings, at least that’s the estimate from Colts owner Jim Irsay.
“It’s a tough thing, look it, he’s leaving $450, $500 million on the table potentially,” Irsay said Saturday night. “I mean, a half a billion dollars, and he’s saying, ‘you know what, I want to have my integrity. I have to be able to look T.Y. in the eye, look my teammates, look coach, look Chris and say, ‘I’m all in,’ and he just didn’t feel he could do that.”
If you’re wondering how Irsay came up with $500 million, it’s pretty simple. Luck still has three years and roughly $65 million left on his current contract, which was set to expire after the 2021 season. If Luck then scored two more big contracts over the course of his career, which would have been completely possible if he played until he was 40, he would have just had to score a deal worth roughly $40 million per season over the final 10 years of his career (That might sound like an absurdly high number, but it won’t after Patrick Mahomes gets his new deal. The Chiefs quarterback will almost certainly hit that threshold in his new deal and Luck’s next contract would have come after that).
By walking away from football, Luck is walking away from nearly a half a billion dollars, but in the end, that doesn’t really matter as long aswith his decision.