The Commanders may expect to face Jim Irsay’s wrath if they try to mess with Andrew Luck. Throughout the weekend, Jim Irsay indulged in two of his greatest passions: loving Andrew Luck and detesting Dan Snyder. It was reported over the weekend that the Commanders had been in touch with the quarterback, who had retired in 2022, to inquire whether he would be interested in playing football again.
On the surface, this could be a strange occurrence. How could this be considered tampering when Andrew Luck has been retired for several years? However, Mr. Irsay is right; this is a sentence that people should use less frequently.
Before the start of the 2016 season, Andrew Luck extended his contract for a total of $122 million over five additional years. When he announced his retirement in 2019, the Colts had two options: They could try to recover the remaining portion of the signing bonus back from Luck or take the moral high ground and continue to pay him. They decided to keep paying him, which was partly an act of goodwill and an indefinite expression of hope that he could reconsider his decision and return to playing football.
The player’s contract is considered frozen when they retire during their deal with the team, and the team keeps their rights. If Andrew Luck were to apply for reinstatement at any point in the remaining two years of his five-year deal, the contract would be renegotiated to reflect the new terms, and he would be obligated to play for the Indianapolis Colts for a further two years.
This particular tidbit in an ESPN article about the Commanders going all-in on Sam Howell is why there is a lot of dispute surrounding it.
There needs to be more information available regarding the content of these calls; moreover, the Commanders were not permitted under any circumstances to discuss playing with Luck. Even if they pretended to be unaware of the league’s rules regarding frozen contracts, they would still be meddling with Luck’s contract. The transaction that brought Carson Wentz to Washington occurred on March 16, 2022, the first day of the new league year. Even if the Luck contract had continued to run, the Colts would have signed him before 4 p.m. If they had contacted Luck before making the trade for Wentz, that would have been considered tampering, regardless.
As a result of the impossibility of convincing Andrew Luck to come out of retirement, this may appear to be the least malicious form of tampering imaginable; yet, Irsay has a bone to pick with Dan Snyder. After months of uncertainty, the owner of the Colts spearheaded the drive to remove Snyder as the owner of the Commanders, a move that has been successful given that the Commanders are getting closer to selling the team.
There are still some roadblocks. Concerns have been raised regarding the ability of a group led by 76ers owner Josh Harris to clear the $1.1 billion debt level necessary by the NFL to purchase the franchise. This group has run into some difficulties. There is a good chance that these problems will be resolved, and all indications point to the transaction being concluded; yet, this tampering charge might very well be Irsay’s Sword of Damocles, which will hang over the head of Snyder if the team is not sold. Snyder is the owner of the franchise.
It is up to the NFL to conduct an investigation, but it is not out of the question that if the Commanders were found to have made contact with Andrew Luck, they might face significant penalties. As was recently seen with the Dolphins, the NFL takes the issue of player tampering exceptionally seriously. As a result of inappropriate contact with Tom Brady, Miami was fined and will lose their first-round draft pick in 2023.
Because Irsay would delight in nothing more than surprising Snyder with one last parting gift on his way out the door, this will be an intriguing item to keep an eye on as it unfolds.