In light of a question being asked about it in the comments of today’s earlier piece on offensive lineman Mike Harris, I thought I’d take a moment to clarify his contract status with the Minnesota Vikings. This is based upon my interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. . .I’ve reached out to have this view corroborated, and if it turns out that I’m incorrect I’ll do a correction. For now, however, I think I’ve got a handle on it.
Harris became a free agent following the 2015 season, and wound up signing a one-year contract with the Vikings during the offseason. He was placed on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list on the first day of camp, and was not activated again at any point during the season.
Article 20, Section 3(b) of the most recent CBA states the following:
A player on N-F/I who is in the final year of his contract (including an option year) will have his contract tolled. However, if the player is physically able to perform his football services on or before the sixth regular season game, the club must pay the player his negotiated Paragraph 5 Salary (pro rata) for the balance of the season in order to toll such player’s contract. If such player is taken off N-F/I during the period when such action is allowed by League rules, his contract will not be tolled.
In this case, having one’s contract “tolled” means that it gets rolled into the next season. It’s sort of like when a player retires before the end of a contract that he’s on. If he announces his retirement with two years left on a contract, the team will put him on the “Reserve/Retired” list. If the player decides to come back the next season, his contract is “tolled” and he would still have two years remaining on his contract with the team he was with when he retired. If a player is in the final year of his contract, the NFI list works in a similar manner, as far as I can tell.
Because of this, it would appear that because Harris was in the last year with his deal with the Vikings (because it was, in fact, the only year of his current deal), he will once again be under contract to the Vikings for next season because he spent the entire season on NFI.
Again, this is my interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and how it handles situations like this one. In his talk with the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Harris certainly made it sound like he anticipates coming back to Minnesota. That also leads me to believe that, if he is able to come back next season, it will be in purple.
As I stated earlier, if my interpretation turns out to be incorrect, I will put a correction in here.