Part 1 of the plan: Remind the 49ers that Brown is their best cornerback, and he is a contract season. The young man is unlikely to return if the Niners stiff him $2 million on a ticky-tack legal technicality. Maybe he'll sign with Seattle just to irritate Coach Harbaugh.
But for now, Tarell Brown hopes to recoup the $2 million he lost by missing on offseason workout. His new agent Joel Segal is already in talks with the 49ers to recoup part or all of the money.
"No, I haven't moved on. Nothing has happened. They've been working, going back and forth and just seeing what we can do," Brown told the AP. "I'm not going to be a distraction to the team at all. That's not my personality first of all, and secondly, the most important thing is us going out there and being prepared and getting ready to play football. I'll let upstairs and my agent handle the rest of that stuff. Take it day by day."
With the bonus, Brown would have made $2,925,000. Without the bonus, Brown is scheduled to make just $925,000.
You say it's Brown's fault, and he should have read the contract? Okay, smartie -- raise your hand if you're familiar with every detail of the non-disclosure agreements and arbitration agreements you signed on the first day of your job. The 49ers claim they didn't know about the clause either.
Additionally, the bonus was not just for attending the minicamp. You do not give guys $2 million for attending voluntary minicamps, because voluntary minicamps do not win Super Bowls.
You give guys $2 million bonuses when they are longshot fifth-round draft picks who start every game for you in their fifth and sixth seasons. The 49ers did not realize Brown would mature into a top-flight corner when they signed him to his current three-year, $7 million deal. And they never intended to pay him anything near the full $7 million. It was a funny money contract.
The $2 million escalator was for playing time incentives, not for attending offseason workouts. Back in 2009, no one expected Tarell Brown to play more than 80% of the snaps on defense the next two seasons. But that's exactly what he did, and earned a bonus the team did not expect him to earn.
Except there there was more to the deal. There was a minor catch in the fine print about offseason workouts. The man is paid to play football, not to assess legal contracts.
Coach Jim Harbaugh is on the record as saying he thinks Brown should get the money. One easy way to do that is just sign Brown to an extension that voids the previous deal, and throw in a $2 million signing bonus.
Otherwise, Seattle might be looking pretty good to Tarell Brown.